Just when we thought smartphones were losing creativity, a small circular device the size of a pocket watch has the potential to be one of the most innovative gadgets we’ve seen in quite awhile.
The Runcible phone by San Francisco-based startup Monohm is on display at Mobile World Congress this week and generating significant buzz for its unique form factor. When it launches later this year, users will be able to pop out SIM cards from their existing smartphones and use the Runcible for a simpler experience during a night out or weekend stroll.
While there’s so much innovation happening in one tiny device, the first thing you’ll notice is the shape, which is based on the classic pocket watch and compact compass. Considering how big smartphones are getting these days, it’s a refreshing change and fits snugly in your hand. Meanwhile, a back covering ensures it won’t slip and there’s several varieties to choose from, including wood, copper, tin, ceramic and recycled plastic.
The device runs on Firefox OS, includes a charging port, comes with a camera on the back and allows you to attach a chain if you want to truly embrace the pocket watch theme. It can be synced with a Bluetooth earpiece and take calls directly. But like many things with the Runcible, there are limitations, which are part of a greater effort to not have too much information thrown at you.
For example, you can only select 12 contacts (a nod to the 12 hours in a day, of course) who you can talk to from the device when they call — everyone else goes to voicemail. Unlike most smartphones, it won’t alert you every time you get a Facebook or Twitter alert either. It just lets you know when you have more social activity than usual (like a jump in retweets or Facebook comments) by subtly notifying you within the watch face itself.
Here’s how: one watch face shows different color bubbles that represent various sites, like Facebook (blue) and Instagram (brown). When you’re getting activity on a certain social network, bubbles enlarge so you can glance down and gauge what’s happening without needing specific details. However, it’ll let you know if you’re getting contacted by someone in your 12-person contacts list.
The Runcible gets creative with the compass function, too. Instead of taking you to a landmark with precise GPS directions, it’ll take you through the most scenic route possible. It can also be set as a guessing game and point you in the right direction without step by step instructions. There are several Easter Eggs within the gadget to keep users entertained, too.
Although the pricing hasn’t yet been announced, the company told Mashable it will likely be the price of an unlocked smartphone — so likely in the $600 range.
Why It’s Hot:
This is an interesting reverse in trend where smartphones are becoming smarter version of everything you own – watch, kitchen appliances or even clothes. Instead, this phone is giving you a imaginative version of phone in disguise. Representing a counter-balance to the technology advancement.