[VIDEO] See How Sony's E-Paper Watch Turns From Black To White

Think smart watches are all the rage? Sony's E-Paper watch is proving the world wrong.

Cover image via The Verge

A few days ago, it was rumoured that Sony will be making a watch entirely out of e-paper. But the truth is that the watch has already been out in plain sight for months!

Image via

Two days ago, we heard of Sony's plans to build a watch made entirely of e-paper — one where the band and the watch face would both change in response to the user's wrist gestures.

A few days ago we heard rumors that Sony was busy working on a smartwatch made entirely of e-paper, the material seen on devices such as the Kindle and the Pebble.

The watch has been disguised under the label FES (Fashion Entertainments Watch) Watch which was in plain sight on Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake

Image via

On Friday, Sony announced that it was the creator of a strange crowdfunding campaign that had promised to deliver watches and accessories imbued with e-ink technology.

Sony's e-ink-powered FES Watch (Fashion Entertainments Watch) has been hiding in plain sight for months on Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake, where the device blew past its original funding goal of around $8,500 and eventually managed to raise a little more than $20,000.

Image via

FES Watch was revealed to be a subdivision of Sony, formed to design and experiment with products for the future

Image via

It’s called the FES Watch and it’s being produced under the brand name Fashion Entertainments, which we now know to be an offshoot of Sony.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Fashion Entertainments startup behind that crowdfunded watch is in fact a subdivision of Sony, tasked with designing and experimenting with products that can define the next evolution in personal electronic devices.
Image via

Why the secrecy? According to a Sony representative, the purpose of this was to test the market's interest with the new watch concept

Sony representatives told the Wall Street Journal that it wanted to see how popular the product was without a major name behind it. “We hid Sony’s name because we wanted to test the real value of the product, whether there will be demand for our concept,” commented someone close to the project. The e-paper product line doesn’t stop at smartwatches, with an e-ink bow tie also under development.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, a Sony spokesperson fessed up to creating a phantom company, called Fashion Entertainments, and launching its wearable experiment as a crowdfunding campaign to see if it could catch fire with nothing more than viral momentum.

Although not branded as a smart watch, the main feature which attracts users is the use of e-ink, which is able to change the design of the watch's face and the band.

The main feature of the thin device, which is shaped like a traditional wristwatch, appears to be its use of e-ink to change design of the watch interface and wrist band.

While the demo showed a smartphone app being used to adjust e-ink designs, it didn't point to any connectivity with smartphone apps, so this appears to land squarely in the dumb-watch side of the spectrum.
Image via

The watch is extremely thin and makes no pretense of being smart, relying on the chameleonic flexibility of its appearance and a clean minimalist shape to win over fans.

The FES Watch uses e-paper across both the face of the timepiece and the strap, allowing both to be customized by the user. It doesn’t have all of the smart notification features of an Android Wear device — Sony already has the Smartwatch 3 to cover that base — but it has an understated minimalist look and a choice of 24 different faces.

Another benefit of using e-ink is that it's not power hungry and according to tests, the watch can last up to sixty days on a single charge

Image via

According to the project's campaign page, the device's battery will last up to 60 days.

Because it has no sophisticated electronics inside, it's also said to last as long as 60 days on a single button battery.

What’s more, thanks to the low power draw of e-ink, it can last for up to 60 days between battery charges.

The company is not limiting itself to just watches. They have been experimenting with e-ink on other wearables such as bowties to pen holders.

However, the video's use of green-screen trickery is easy to see through, especially when later parts of the video show a user picking new colors and designs for wearable accessories such as headbands and shoe straps; neither the WSJ nor the Fashion Entertainments site have yet revealed a definitive real-world version of the watch. Ultimately, the initiative was described more as a way to imbue everyday items—from pen holders to bowties—with e-ink as a basic fabric, and its design team at Sony consists of only five engineers at this time.

The FES watch is just one of a number of prototypes that Sony has developed while investigating the viability of e-paper as an unusual material for wearable devices. The company is also looking into making bow ties, hat and shoe accessories, and paper holders out of electronic paper.

The watch is available at USD167 on the site and will ship to backers in 2015

Offered for about $167 on the crowdfunding site, the FES Watch is scheduled to ship to early backers in May 2015. Sony has not released an official statement regarding the device or whether it will be made widely available as a commercial product.

Watch the prototypes of the watches here:

Other tech news on SAYS:

You may be interested in: