19 Jun 2013

Sony opens up its SmartWatch

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No longer just a watch... No longer just a watch... Sony

Sony is looking to invigorate sales of its SmartWatch device with a pricedrop to the $100 mark and the rather big news that its opening up the device to any developer’s firmware.

It doesn’t sound much, but for a big company this is a fairly radical move.

“We are now taking the next step to open up SmartWatch,” said a Sony statement. “Previously, you’ve been able to create apps for SmartWatch with the Sony Add-on SDK, but now we hope to see even more innovation as we’re making it possible for advanced developers to create and flash alternative firmware, by sharing technical details and instructions.”

While also issuing all sorts of admonishments that flashing alternative firmware will probably void the warranty, it’s even released a SmartWatch Hacker Guide to help developers get started. And the company has already co-run a SmartWatch hackathon in Sweden that looked to get the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform firmware working on the device.

You have a 128x128 colour touchscreen with a fairly nifty CPU inside

There are all sorts of possibilities that open up here. Essentially it is just the Sony firmware that limits it to watch functionality – lose that and you have a 128x128 colour touchscreen with a fairly nifty CPU inside it that you can convert to pretty much anything.

Cynics have pointed out that this could just be a way of offloading stock of a product that has yet to really find its feet in the marketplace, but compare and contrast to what comes out of Cupertino nowadays and the company is taking a fairly radical stance with this approach – one more suited to a start-up than a global consumer electronics giant. Think Sony with a Raspberry Pi flavour. And the prospect gets even more interesting and faintly subversive if you extrapolate it outwards through the company’s entire range. Fancy a hackable version of a 4k monitor or a F65 that you can tweak to your own specifications and desires? It’s a long way off but this could be the start.


Andy Stout

Andy has spent over two decades writing about all aspects of the broadcast and film industries for a variety of high-profile industry publications on both sides of the Atlantic. During that time the industry has moved from 4:3 SD to 16:9 SD to HD and now on to 4K HDR. He's getting kind of curious to see where it goes next.

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