The internet was strapped to wrists at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday in the form of Android-powered "smart watches" that serve up online content along with telling time.
Japanese consumer electronics titan Sony and venture-backed Italian startup i’m Watch were each sporting spins on timepieces that use the Google software to connect wearers with email, music, websites or other online content.
Sony’s SmartWatch was promised by the end of March while i’m Watch was released at CES.
"This is the right period for the watch," i’m Watch chief executive and co-founder Massimiliano Bertolini told AFP at the company’s booth on the show floor.
"Everybody wants to have technology that is also fashion," he continued. "That is the Apple secret; making devices that people fall in love with."
For some time now California-based Apple has been letting iPod Nano owners turn the small, square devices into Internet-connected watches complete with wrist straps.
I’m Watch ranges in price from $350 for colorful models with silicon wrist bands and aluminum-cased touchscreens to $15,000 for one made of pink gold and adorned with diamonds, according to company designer Gianluca Negrello.
Wearers are alerted to new Gmail messages or fresh posts at online communities Facebook or Twitter and can access digital photo albums or free Google Web-based services such as Calendar.
Messages can’t be sent from touch-screen i’m Watch, which can connect to their own online shop for applications or music. People can make phone calls using i’m Watch, which links wirelessly to smartphones.
Sony said at CES that by the end of March it will release a touch-display SmartWatch capable of connecting to mobile phones wirelessly using Bluetooth capabilities.
Applications will be tailored for SmartWatch, which will be priced at $149.
SmartWatch devices being sported by workers at the Sony booth were tethered wirelessly to Android-powered Xperia smartphone models the company unveiled at the show.