How wildly ambitious can a single smartwatch be? There may be a new winner: the Neptune Suite, an Indiegogo campaign that launched today, wants to be everything. Absolutely everything.
The Neptune Suite started as, a project unveiled just a month ago: an Android smartwatch and phone that would power a "dumb screen" in your pocket, reversing the phone-watch dominant-submissive power relationship. Now that dream has grown in ambition considerably. The Neptune Suite aims to stream and sync with a phone-like pocket screen, a tablet-size device with keyboard to become a laptop hybrid and even to a TV via a dongle. One watch, seamlessly syncing and streaming with everything in your home and life.
Can one wrist-powered gadget do all of that? Neptune founder Simon Tian explained it all during a phone call, promising that the Neptune watch (called the Neptune Hub) has enough battery life to last two days or so. Each peripheral device -- the 5-inch Pocket Screen and 10-inch Tab Screen -- have extra battery life that can charge the watch up on the go (2,800 and 7,000mAh, respectively), full multifinger touch, and cameras.
Wireless streaming to the peripherals happens via WiGig (802.11ad), an emerging high-speed wireless protocol that's been in development for years but hasn't been in any wearable yet. Wireless speeds with WiGig should approach 7 gigabits per second, and work over a shorter room range than 802.11ac Wi-Fi, using a 60GHz band. According to Simon Tian, the 3 millisecond lag for WiGig is so small that mirroring to a phone, tablet or TV-size screen could be handled nearly simultaneously.
The Neptune Hub watch runs Android Lollipop, is its own phone, and has 3G/LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC along with a quad-core processor.
For $599, the Indiegogo early-bird offer includes the watch, Pocket Screen, Tab Screen, a keyboard with touchpad, a TV dongle and a headset. Not bad, in theory. The retail price down the road for Neptune Suite is $899. Availability, well, that's a flexible target: Tian says it could arrive by the end of 2015, or early 2016. Backers of the older Neptune Duo will get grandfathered into the Suite package with its extra accessories.
Is this a wild, weird shot toward the breaking point of wearable tech? Of course. But Neptune is imagining what will happen when wearable tech is able to contain miniaturized computing that dwarfs anything we can do on current phones or tablets. We may not run everything from our watches, but the dream of carrying your workspace around and converting any screen into your own personal office is one I've thought of for years. I just thought I'd be using my phone. Maybe a smartwatch would work, too...someday.