Secret Labs takes a crack at a new .Net watch

Secret Labs takes a crack at a new .Net watch

Summary: SPOT 2.0? There's a Kickstarter campaign for a new .Net smart watch, a joint project of Secret Labs and House of Horology.

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Microsoft history buffs may recall that Microsoft fielded a .Net watch, its Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) timepiece, back in 2004. It was discontinued in 2008. There have been rumors Redmond may take another crack at the smart watch business with a touch-centric model, possibly this year.

kickstarterwatch

In the interim, custom electronics developer Secret Labs is moving full steam ahead with its own .Net Micro Framework-based Agent watch, for which it has been seeking funding via Kickstarter since earlier this month. (Those are Secret Labs' shots of the coming watches, above, from the Kickstarter page.)

Secret Labs is the company behind the open-source Netduino line of custom electronics, as well as its own hardware, software and services used by the smart home and building control industries. For the Agent watches it has partnered with another New York City-based company, House of Horology, which makes Bedlam fashion watches, in developing the Agent.

The Agent watch is designed to talk to users' smartphones (Windows Phone 8, iPhone 4s or newer and Android 2.3 or newer) using Bluetooth. Users will be able to control their music libraries, display incoming calls and notifications and feel a vibration if they accidentally forget their phones, the Kickstarter page notes. Users also will be able to download additional watchfaces through their phones. 

The waterproof Agent watch, acording to its Kickstarter page, relies on a 120 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 prodessor, with a secondary AVR co-processor. It incorporates a 1.28-inch square memory display, Bluetooth 4.0 and an ambient light sensor. It supports Qi wireless charging and runs the Agent OS 1.0, which includes the .Net Microframework 4.3.

Microsoft developed the .Net Micro Framework embedded platform, which was the heart of the Microsoft SPOT watches, some early smart coffee makers and some other small, low-power devices that were unable to accommodate the .Net Compact Framework. In 2009, Microsoft ceased work on the .Net Micro Framework and turned code support over to the community.

Watch apps can be written in C# using Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 (including the free Express edition). Watch apps can be deployed over Bluetooth. Developers also can interact remotely with Agent via Bluetooth from their Objective-C, C#, or Java smartphone apps.

Secret Labs plans to order parts, build circuit boards, finish support for Bluetooth Low Energy mode between June and September. It is planning to obtain FCC, CE and Qi certifications in October, and start pilot production in November. Full production is slated to begin in December 2013, according to the Agent watch Kickstarter page.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Consumerization, Microsoft, Software Development

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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13 comments
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  • If you're calling it a "watch" then you're doing it wrong.

    Look at the Nike Fuelband, the Jawbone UP, the Fitbit Flex, etc. People don't want a time piece on their wrist. You can convince people to put something on their wrist that tracks their health and also has a clock on it. If you try to sell something as a watch or time piece it will fail. They should sell a band for you wrist that syncs with fitness games on Kinect. Or create a platform for Xbox One where objects like these and WiFi body scales sync to Xbox Live.
    cool8man
    • What if...

      You were a person who is obsessive about new emails/texts and wanted to stop pulling their phones out every few minutes, perhaps selling it as a watch for "seeing what's happening at this time.." isn't a bad idea.
      saqrkh
      • I would prefer that over a pair of Glasses

        It would be much more practical.
        William Farrel
  • bluetooth connectivity...

    For those of us who use Bluetooth headsets or headphones, can a bluetooth watch be connected at the same time? Or do you have to choose? One of my favorite things about Windows Phone 8 is voice-texting, ad I'd hate to lose that because had a "smart watch."
    MonkeyDKS
    • Bluetooth is not a mono-device service

      You can connect multiple devices ... as long as the connecting devices support automatic change between frequency BT channels.
      wackoae
  • What's with ....

    The HUGE Bezel!!! It takes up 40% of the usable space!
    ePoch270
  • Why?

    Who are these people who keep investing in these smartwatches?
    new gawker
    • Because Dick Tracy had one

      They are a discrete and practical way to access data without having to dig into pockets.
      jorjitop
  • NOT A PRACTICAL THINGY

    Looking at the pics, and estimating size and weight, this may be alright for desk/sedentary folks, but far too bulky and heavy for more active people. I would end up taking it off most of the time for comfort and to avoid damage, so the main advantages would be lost, and the chances of loss or theft would increase beyond reason. I suspect that most users would buy/wear for the bling effect and bragging rights only.
    Old Dog V
    • I suspect that most users would buy/wear for the bling effect and bragging

      rights only.

      Sounds very much like the same reasons people buy Apple gadgets.
      adornoe
  • smartwatch

    I have a SmartWatch right now. Cost is around $16 to $18 for a nice little Casio digital. Does everything I need a watch to do -- displays date and time. With a low profile and an unbreakable build, it is the ultimate watch. Never had a better watch - it is like Apple computers, it just works.
    mytake4this
  • Timex USB watch.

    Not wireless but it can play space invaders. About 10 years old and all I need is new batteries and oh yeah it has an api; write your own apps for it.
    sysop-dr
  • why does it have to look so ugly?

    the flat plastic surface looks cheap. the buttons stick out like spines of a little angry hegdehog.
    ForeverSPb