Wearable tech etiquette might still be a bit of a minefield but Sgnl, a new smartwatch in a strap on Kickstarter, wants to add something new into the mix – taking phone calls with your fingertip.
No-one with half decent manners would interrupt you with this spy/producer/DJ-like pose, look how busy and important you’ll look. The $139, 24mm bone conduction strap comes from Samsung C-Lab spin-off Innomdle Lab and we tried an early version way back at CES in January when it was known as TipTalk.
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The headline feature works like this: you bring your wrist up to your face and press one fingertip to your ear. When you get a phone call (and it transfers to the strap via Bluetooth), Sgnl then uses a bone conduction actuator to transmit vibrations from the watch through your hand to your fingertip.
These then create sound, processed through an audio amplifying algorithm, within your ear. You speak through a microphone in the band itself.
And it really works. When we tried it on the noisy CES showfloor, we were able to listen to a short voice message with finger pressed into ear as we felt the strap vibrating on our wrist. It essentially turns your finger into a hearable so you can listen to calls or audio with zero faff.
Compatible with both iOS 8+ and Android 4.4+, it’s designed to be used with both smartwatches and traditional watches, thanks to a lug adaptor. If you use it with a regular dumb watch, Sgnl turns it into a smartwatch with extra features including alert vibrations, reminders and fitness tracking (via an accelerometer).
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It can even be worn as a standalone band. On that point, it’s worth nothing that since January, the design has been simplified and looks a lot more stylish. At 24mm, though, it is ever so slightly wider than a standard strap but it is IP56 water resistant.
Battery life is four hours talk time and seven days on standby and it charges in one hour via microUSB.
Sgnl comes in black, white and blue. The Kickstarter early bird price is $129, rising to $139 when that batch of 500 sells out and it’s due to ship in February 2017. The campaign is already flying with over $375,000 raised from 2,000+ backers on a $50,000 target.