Sony's e-paper FES watch turns the strap into a screen too

Sony has quietly kept its name away from the FES smartwatch, which has followed in the footsteps of the Pebble and raised big bucks from crowdfunding.

Watch and learn: a new smartwartch from Sony brings the whole watch to life -- because both the face and the band change and react to you.

The FES watch is the product of Fashion Entertainments, which describes itself on its website as a "startup project" but is in fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, a subdivision of Sony. Sony's name has been kept in the background until it gauges demand, and the watchmaker has even solicited donations from the public via Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake.

The FES has raised 3.5 million yen ($30,000, £19,000, AU$35,000) from more than 150 supporters, beating its original target of 2 million yen. Those who have donated have been told that they'll get their watch some time after May next year.

The watch's strap changes design, so you can choose from patterns like mock metal or faux leather. It's not the prettiest smartwatch, looking more like a prototype or even a toy than devices such as the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear S . It also doesn't have many of the more advanced features of other smartwatches, from GPS to heart-rate monitors -- but the price will presumably reflect that.

This isn't the first crowdfunded watch using e-ink technology. The Pebble Watch was such a crowdfunding smash it helped drive the current surge of interest in smartwatches, and led to a sequel, the Pebble Steel , that is for our money the best smartwatch on the market.

E-paper is a flexible material that displays black and white text or images. Like the e-ink screen of an e-book reader and unlike the electric display of a phone or tablet, it doesn't require loads of power to work. That means it uses much less power than other mobile devices, so the battery lasts longer -- up to 60 days on a watch battery, apparently.

E-paper's flexibility means it could be used for other types of wearable technology, and FES is tinkering with colour-changing reactive items from shoes to bow ties. And why not? Bow ties are cool.

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