CoWatch with Alexa

CoWatch: Alexa Coming to Watches

It seems like interesting in getting Amazon’s Alexa is growing. The latest evidence is that there’s an Indiegogo campaign to package Alexa in a watch.

It’s easy to create an Indiegogo campaign, but this particularly notable because it comes with some pretty extensive media coverage. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first I’d like to point out that they already reached their funding goal.

And before we get to the media coverage, it’s worth describing the watch. In my opinion it looks beautiful. What do you think?

CoWatch with Alexa
CoWatch with Alexa

The CoWatch seems to come from a Chinese company called iMCO. A lot of good things come from China, but there are also a lot of things such as media sticks that aren’t particularly high quality. It seems like this intention is to bring a very quality product, but I’m a little skeptical that’s possible for the pricing.

One concern I have is the battery. A 300 mAh battery isn’t very strong. It’s powerful enough to work for a watch, but as we’ve seen with the Amazon Tap having Alexa work, even by touch, requires a fairly large battery. In fact, a teardown of the Amazon Tap shows that it has a 2850 mAh battery. So at nearly 10x the battery it doesn’t have hands-free, always on listening like the Echo or the Echo Dot.

My initial reading of “With up to 32 hours of battery life in an always-on mode, CoWatch works as hard as you do…” lead me to believe that Alexa is always on. Unfortunately this just applies to the watch. (Which begs the question, “It’s a watch supposed to be ‘always on’?”)

It wasn’t clear until that I read the reviews that you’ll have navigate to an Alexa app and then speak a voice command to it. Suddenly the battery life makes a lot more sense. Of course, if the watch isn’t used to play music like the other Alexa devices from Amazon, perhaps the battery will last longer. Then again, the watch adds fitness tracking sensors such as an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and optical heart rate sensors.

I’m not sure the value of Alexa on a watch when you have to navigate to an app and then tell it what you want it to do. The suggestion is that you can do simple home automation tasks, but those typically have their own apps. What do I get by using the Alexa app when I can use my Nest app? At a minimum an Amazon Tap-like dedicated Alexa button would be useful. That would avoid navigating through apps, which really takes full advantage of Alexa’s potential. Of course, it is easier to get information back than having to type on a watch screen. That said, it would seem like this is what Google Now and Siri are for. It’s not that Alexa can’t do it, but that functionality already exists on smart watches.

The watch uses Cronologics OS which is neither the two obvious watch OSes from Google or Apple. That’s an initial cause for concern, but the Cronologics OS is based on Google’s Android, so maybe it is a good choice. That said, I’d feel more comfortable about the watch if Amazon itself was making it using Google’s official Android Wear.

There’s a lot of skepticism in this post, but I’ll end it with a big media review, The Verge and what they say:

Normally we approach crowdfunded hardware with a fair amount of skepticism, given just how hard it is to make hardware. But CoWatch, which has been in the works for a year, and Cronologic OS have shown me just enough to think they might be on to something.

If they can convince a writer at The Verge, then who am I to argue?

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