Secret Labs takes a crack at a new .Net watch

SPOT 2.0? There's a Kickstarter campaign for a new .Net smart watch, a joint project of Secret Labs and House of Horology.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.


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.

Editorial standards