The Apple Watch launches this year, which means we'll soon see loads of imitators and competitors. The 2015 CES is bound to be smartwatch-crazy. But one prominent watch manufacturer is taking a different tack: Offering a smart watch strap that can be attached to different watches.
The Montblanc E-Strap is an Italian-made piece of leather texturized to look like carbon fiber (?!?) connected to a tiny screen that sits on the inside of the wearer's wrist. This OLED display is actually a touchscreen, and while I can't imagine it allows a wide variety of gestures given its diminutive size (0.9 inch) and resolution of just 128x36, the company reckons it will be good enough to provide notifications and some remote control functions. According to watch news site A Blog to Watch,
In addition to basic calls, texts, e-mails, calendars, social media, and reminder notifications, the e-Strap will function as an activity monitor/tracker with a pedometer and accelerometer to measure data that feeds into an included iPhone or Android phone app.
Of course, you'll also be able to control your phone's music player with the e-Strap and perform a few other cool features such as use it as a remote phone camera trigger and use it find your phone if it is within Bluetooth range. Unsurprisingly, the Montblanc e-Strap will use Bluetooth 4.0 in order to connect to its host phone device. In terms of notifications, the e-Strap will offer vibration alerts to let you know when something new has come in.
The remote camera trigger idea is kind of funny; it means you can take as many tripod-mounted selfies as you like, and you'll be touching your wrist in all of them. Aside from that I do like the approach, and the idea of having simple notifications discreetly displayed on the inside of your wrist.
If it's successful, we can expect to see other luxury watch manufacturers jumping on board. A central issue those companies have is that those who can afford those types of high-end watches do not necessarily want to deviate from the prestigious faces. The E-Strap could provide the best of both worlds.