WIMM Labs: The Early Pioneer of Smartwatches
WIMM Labs, a California-based tech company, pushed the boundaries of mobile computing. Its smart wearable devices paved the way for the Google Watch. Discover the pioneering creations from WIMM Labs that got the company snapped up by Google.
About WIMM Labs
WIMM Labs was incorporated in March 2010 in Los Altos, California with financial backing from venture capital and Pillar Ventures. The tech company launched its first product, an Android-based developer platform for wearable displays. Towards the end of 2011, WIMM Labs developed its own smartwatch with a developer-centric approach. From then on, WIMM Labs gained significant clout in the high tech industry and received lots of attention from its Silicon Valley-based competitors.
WIMM Labs: innovative smartwatches
WIMM Labs carried significant weight in the tech industry following the development of its two innovative Android-based devices: WIMM One and WIMM Platform.
Let’s take a look at the launch of WIMM One, its most notable features and the reviews from critics.
Launch into the wearables market
WIMM Labs released its first smartwatch in 2011, called the WIMM One. This ran on the Android operating system and included a platform for developers, enabling them to code apps for it. Although the device was still in its early stages, it was clear from the outset that it had strong potential, particularly given the lack of competition.
WIMM One features
The following were among the most powerful traits of WIMM One:
- Data communication with accessories developed for the WIMM platform.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios for connecting to wireless networks and smartphones.
- Pre-installed micro apps for functions such as a pedometer, weather, calendar, world clock, timer, and an alarm clock.
WIMM One reviews
The WIMM One devices went on sale for $199 and gained good reviews. High tech analysts particularly liked the plethora of free apps and the range of watch faces, along with additional software available online. However, its lack of a GPS radio system and additional accessories let it down. Awarded 3 out of 5 stars by tech reviewers, it wasn’t bad for WIMM Labs’ first launch into the wearable microdevice market.
The WIMM Platform was WIMM Lab’s second product launched on the wearable device market.
Launch of the one-inch platform
WIMM Labs launched the WIMM Wearable Platform - a wearable computing platform the size of a one-inch square. This was a joint project with tech company Foxconn. As the product’s name was a bit of a mouthful, it was publicised as the WIMM Platform.
WIMM Labs sold a limited number of WIMM One Developer Preview Kits. Customers could download the apps from a separate device and then sync them to the WIMM Platform via WiFi.
Features of the WIMM Platform
Aside from a smaller and slimmer appearance, other features boasted by WIMM Labs’s device were the following:
- Full-colour 160 x 160 touchscreen with rich visual experiences and effortless navigation.
- WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, facilitating connections with home automation devices.
- Accelerometer (to rotate the display between portrait and landscape mode depending on how you tilt the device).
- Magnetometer (used to determine your whereabouts in the world, show you which way you’re pointing and to calculate detailed navigation routes via GPS).
- Runs on the Android operating system.
- Works with Android, Blackberry and iOS devices.
- Features many micro apps including a health monitor app, mobile payment app and all-in-one remote.
Reviews of WIMM Labs’ Platform
The latest creation from WIMM Labs appeared to be between the iPod nano and Sifteo’s Cubits. The device was seen by many as a strong competitor to the Nike+ SportWatch, also released to the market during the same period.
Critics, however, pointed out the limitations of what you can do on a one-inch screen. These included the “fat finger syndrome”, where users accidentally push parts of the screen they didn’t mean to, only to feel frustrated as they try to undo a command and go back to the previous screen.
Other criticisms included WIMM Labs’ push for RSS preview apps instead of fully-featured readers which would have been more suitable given the size of the screen. Also, the text input feature had few uses since users couldn’t send text messages or emails from the WIMM Labs Platform.
WIMM Labs’ acquisition by Google
In the Summer of 2012, after just three years in the tech industry WIMM Labs announced its acquisition by Google, its biggest rival in tech-heavy wristwatches. This was a strategic buy-out to boost Google’s plans for wearable devices.
WIMM Labs had previously announced on its website that it had "entered into an exclusive, confidential relationship", without naming who the purchaser was. The details only emerged after the acquisition was reported in computer magazines. WIMM Labs essentially gave Google the talent and technology it needed to build upon its research and development in smartwatches, namely the creation of the Google Watch, which was still in progress at that time.
At Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, WIMM employees continue to worth with the Android team. Their combined expertise is set to innovate the wearable microdevice market in the very near future.