Haier's Asu smartwatch has a projector... but why?

Its practical use isn't quite clear, but the Haier Asu hides a tiny projector that uses your hand as the screen.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
2 min read

As you tap out a phone number, Haier Asu will project it onto the back of your hand.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Haier showed up at Mobile World Congress 2018 eager to prove that there are still features to crank out of a wearable. 

The new Asu Smartwatch is boxy, bulky and hides a tiny projector. It's not what you're looking for if you want a sleek or stylish accessory. But the Asu is still a conversation piece. 


The projector is tiny, but bright.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The projector peeks out of the watch's right side, throwing a range of information and images at the back of your hand or anything else you point it at. With the projector's 480x854-pixel resolution, I could clearly see whatever it projected onto my somewhat-hairy skin.

Watch this: Turn your hand into a screen with this projector watch

Exactly what can it show? It can project the digits you're tapping out when you enter a phone number -- I guess that could be a clever way to share you number with a date. It can also display the steps you've taken with the integrated fitness tracker. Some of its more basic features, such as the stopwatch also work with the projector. I could imagine it coming in handy if you're out running and looking at the watch face is too difficult. If you're more daring, you can give yourself a temporary light-based tattoo as by drawing an image onto the 1.5-inch (240x240-pixel) touchscreen. 


Don't bother checking the watch face when timing your next run. All the information you need is on your hand. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Asu has one gigabyte of memory inside and it's powered by a 1.2GHz processor. Other features include a heart-rate sensor, GPS, 4G LTE support and a gyroscope. The Asu has an IP65 rating making it resistant to dust and bursts of water from a low-pressure nozzle.

If you're wondering whether the Asu is really a bright idea, I don't blame you. The projector is unique and intriguing, no doubt, but it also carries a certain "OK, so what?" element. Just how practical is it? What problem does it solve? Honestly, I can't say. You can use it to check what time it is, of course. But there are plenty of other ways to do that.

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