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I think I've found the award for weirdest smartwatch gimmick: the Kairos smartwatch was hiding in a corner of Mobile World Congress, and I'm flabbergasted.
Instead of just using a glowing OLED or LCD display, or simply embedding hidden components in a mechanical watch, the Kairos does both: a transparent OLED display -- the first one I've seen in a functioning demo -- hovers over the exposed guts of the watch. Bizarre, and sort of neat. For most people, completely pointless.
The Kairos watch was announced last year, but I never saw one. The demo-loop version I tried on my wrist was ridiculously thick, but the display worked, running odd fake notifications from "Arnold Scharz" and sample fitness-type messages. It's hard to even see the OLED display in these photos, because the display's refresh rate didn't seem to work well with our camera's fast shutter.
The Kairos Watch promises to blend a smartwatch and mechanical watch into one form, getting notifications and tracking fitness data as well as providing the time. Prices range from $549 to a whopping $1,249 on Kairos' website, depending on whether you get the Japanese or Swiss-made model.
Running a display over a watch face may be an odd marriage, but there could be another cool future for this tech: overlaying or mixing reflective always-on displays with glowing notifications. I don't know. But hey, if you wanted to see a different take on smartwatches in a show already full of them, here it is.