WIMM (WIMM Wearable Platform) micro communications device, introduced a tiny iPod Nano like device that features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and s based on Google’s Android mobile operating system. It is supposed to display messages, handle exercise monitoring, and, presumably, run tiny apps that others will write.
The device isn’t quite for sale. In fact, it’s more of a platform for others to build upon (just like Chumby) and you can write apps for WIMM-compatible devices that should work across the range. The platform is ostensibly open but manufacturers will have to license the technology to build similar tech.
Fundamental to the WIMM Platform is an elegant, simple touch screen interface that hides the complexity and power of the underlying technology. The WIMM Module can be loaded with a variety of Android-based Micro Apps created by using an open SDK. In addition, it works seamlessly with Android, Blackberry and iOS devices. For the partner, it offers an open platform that’s easily customizable; for the consumer, it offers always-on information at a glance.
You can develop for the platform using these tools and licensees can use the dev hardware to plan their own WIMM-compatible devices.
“The modules were waterproof plastic or ceramic and had contact points for attaching to chargers, docks, bands, etc. The display is a 1″ x 1″ (160 x 160) touchscreen, wi-fi, bluetooth 2.1 EDR, GPS, accelerometer, magnetometer, vibrator, speaker, up to 32GB of microSD memory,” said Beta news who received the afore said device.
The screen is one of the major cool points for WIMM. It’s a transflective TFT (think touchscreen Pixel Qi) that switches to “passive” reflective mode when apps aren’t in use, so it becomes a regular watch with a long battery life. But when you want to run apps with its 667 MHz applications processor, the backlight kicks on, the screen switches to transmissive mode, and it becomes active.
“We didn’t want a screen that would go off and go dark like when people put the iPod Nano on their wrist,” SVP of product marketing Tim Twerdahl told us. “And we also knew that if we tried to keep the screen alive all the time, we’d have some serious battery issues…so we innovated on 2 fronts, one is the architecture on the board, and the other is the display technology that allows it to have those two modes.”
The device pairs with any Bluetooth smartphone, but the ideal companionship is with another Android device. WiMM Companion (shown above) is a conduit for anything you want to pass from the phone to the module…for example, you can pipe down RSS feeds or weather headlines, so when you click on something on WIMM, it launches on your phone.
So how is it different from Sony Ericsson LiveView, the 1.3-inch wrist-mounted Android smartphone companion? You don’t necessarily have to link it to your phone.
“What Sony Ericsson did was very much a slave to an Android phone, to such an extent that I read reports that if you didn’t have it paired with a phone, you couldn’t even get the time on the thing!” Mooring told us. “The nice thing is that you could pair this with a phone via bluetooth, and there’s a great product opportunity there…but if you’re in the runner’s watch category, for example, you don’t want to force your users to run with their phone, so for cases like that, [WIMM can be a] standalone, autonomous GPS device that syncs up to your home network when you get back from your run.”
Like Chumby, WIMM comes with a full canon of Web-based services for desktop and mobile browsers. Users will be able to browse and buy apps, send them to their device, manage their settings, calendars, location, and apps from a user dashboard.
WIMM Labs has white-labeled everything. It has created a standardized micro-sized Android platform, created all the user management and app distribution services, and has partnered with Foxconn to manufacture the finished product. All a brand would have to do is purchase the touchscreen module, or just the guts (an impressively compact board) to embed it into something new. Then when the brand has come up with a way to use it, Foxconn cranks it out, and WIMM labs creates the branded Web interface on its already existent backend.
“For brands that have to adopt technology and know they do, but can’t afford the R&D to get into the business, we provide the parts that are too costly,” Mooring said. “It’s sort of a shared R&D model.”
This means all the many potential uses of WIMM can be created, branded, and brought to market just that much faster. Mooring and Twerdahl showed me dozens of ideas for the platform, and said they’re already in talks with watchmakers, fashion companies, and sporting equipment makers to make them real.
The WIMM One Developer preview kit and SDK will be available in the Q3 2011.
Here’re some screnshoots of the device: