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Wearable Tech

Speed-reading smartwatch delivers one word at a time

Speed-reading technology makes its way onto your wrist with the crowdfunded Uno, a wearable that promises long battery life and fast notifications.

Uno Noteband
Get up to speed with Uno. Uno

The market for high-tech wrist-worn wearables is already feeling a bit crowded with smartwatches, fitness bands and the looming shadow of the oncoming Apple Watch. The Uno Noteband, an unusual wearable, is looking to stand out from the crowd, one word at a time. The gadget is currently raising funds on Indiegogo.

Uno uses Spritz, speed-reading software that has already appeared in apps for mobile devices. It works by delivering one word at a time in rapid succession. The idea is that you can read more efficiently by not having to move your eyes across a screen. All the words are delivered in the same place and you can ramp up the speed as you gain experience, with some accomplished users hitting 700 words per minute.

A video demo with a working Uno prototype shows the wearable delivering text at 250 words per minute, and it's quite easy to follow along. You can adjust the speed to your liking. It's an intriguing way to consume incoming emails, notifications and texts directly on your wrist without having to reach for your phone.

Uno is living a double life as a fitness tracker. An accelerometer built into the gadget logs your steps and activity level, working with Apple Health and Google Fit to keep track of your fitness data. The noteband is also actively going after the gamer market by displaying messages, notifications and game alerts from Xbox Live, PlayStation and Steam. In case it got lost in there among all those features, Uno does indeed work as a watch as well.

Because the OLED Uno isn't trying to deliver a big, glorious screen, it can run for over three days on a charge. Battery life is already one of the biggest knocks against wearable technology, so it's nice to see a device that doesn't need to be plugged in every single night.

Early-bird pledge slots of $59 (about £38, AU$71) are still available. Once that's sold out, the price rises to $69 (about £44, AU$83). With 30 days left on the flexible-funding campaign, Uno has raised more than $20,000 toward a $50,000 goal.

Uno is hitting a fairly inexpensive price point for a wearable, which could make it a good value assuming it delivers on its promises. There's definitely a market niche for affordable, capable wearables that Uno could slot into nicely to serve the needs of people who don't want to drop hundreds of dollars on a prestige smartwatch.

unonoteband2.jpg
This prototype Uno Noteband could become a low-cost smartwatch alternative. Uno