All Hands on Tech: Here comes the Neptune Duo smartwatch

Simon Tian was still a student in Quebec when he started taking pre-orders for a computer you could wear on your wrist. It wasn’t until he saw the demand spiking that he decided to take a trip to China and learn about the process of getting a real hardware product made.

At age 19, Tian launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Neptune Pine. The idea was to make a different kind of smart watch. Before the end of 2013, Simon closed his Kickstarter campaign after raising $800,000 – more than eight times his original asking price and a record breaker for a Canadian-based project.

Now, Neptune is ready to unveil its sequel product.

With most smart watches we’ve seen so far like the Apple Watch or the Samsung Gear, it relies on your smartphone to supply the main computing power. But with the Neptune Hub, it acts as the main computing power and the screen is the companion device. So all your personal information is actually attached to your body.

Tian says computing has become advanced and miniaturized enough that we can now wear our personal devices. That at least means it’s less likely you’ll lose your device or drop it and break it.

The Neptune Hub can also be used to complete many tasks more quickly than a smartphone. You can write a text message by using to finger to form letters on the touch screen. Or use your voice to dictate a message.

You can make a phone call or launch a video chat at the tap of a finger.

This is more than a smart watch – it’s a full computer that fits on your wrist. It runs the full version of Google’s Android – not the watered down Android Wear API.

“If you really think about it, the watch actually represents you as a human being. Because it’s actually always attached to your wrist, it’s like a part of your body,” Tian says. “We as human beings have become overly dependent on our smartphones, if you lose sight of your smartphone for just a minute you freak out… that’s the reason why we thought of inverting the two roles.”

The watch actually represents you as a human being… we’ve become overly dependent on our smartphones… that’s the reason why we thought of inverting the two roles, instead of the phone being the master we have the smart watch.

But what about when you just want a bigger screen? The Neptune Hub comes with a companion device – a screen that’s about the size of a smartphone. But this device is basically just a large battery and an LCD display.

The Neptune Hub transmits both user inputs and video to the display wirelessly using a new, high-bandwidth method that is faster than WiFi. Tian says that allows it to respond without latency.

And when you’re running low on battery, you can connect your Hub to the screen device and siphon across some extra juice.

So why should Neptune’s model succeed when it’s going against the approach of tech giants like Apple and Samsung?

“The idea behind the Hub is it’s a faster and more efficient way of doing things than on your smartphone. It’s sort of like the transition we’ve had over the last few years from the PC form factor to a pocket-sized device,” Tian says.

The idea behind the hub is that it’s a faster and more efficient way to doing things than your smartphone. It’s like the transition the last few years from the larger PC form factor to the smartphone. Pretty much all your computing is now done on your smartphone.

The Neptune Hub will ship in late 2015 and is available for pre-order. You can get it for as low as $500 if you pony up now. Or if you want to pay when it ships, you can reserve it now for free and pay $800 later.

I guess the pricing on this product is just like the device itself. It’s all a matter of time.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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