Matrix’s original PowerWatch had a great idea. It was a smartwatch that eschewed traditional charging in favor of using thermoelectrics to turn your body heat into power for the smartwatch. The problem? It didn’t do much.
Matrix is solving that issue in spades with the new PowerWatch 2, which adds GPS, heart rate monitoring, water resistance to an improved 200 meters, and a full-color display. What’s even more impressive is there’s a brand new way to charge up your PowerWatch. It’s now got solar power.
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There’s a solar ring around the display that will convert sunlight into energy. That, partnered with the already-proven thermoelectric power, means it’ll be awfully difficult to run out of power. In fact, Matrix co-founder and CEO Akram Boukai tells Wareable that it’s possible that the PowerWatch 2 could never die, which is especially good for the watch’s new sleep tracking ability.
The new heart rate monitor and built-in GPS mean the PowerWatch 2 is a much better fitness companion. Matrix is also working on tying heart rate data to its calorie counting data, which was already pretty accurate thanks to it being able to detect your body heat. Boukai says Matrix is also working on automatic workout detection for running, cycling and swimming, which will come in a firmware update post release.
The Garmin-like industrial design of the original has also been tweaked. It’s now got rivets and grooves to look even more rugged. You’ll also control it differently, with four buttons rather than a crown.
We got some hands-on time with the PowerWatch 2, and while it wasn’t a final unit (you’ll see that the north indicator on the compass dial is actually east) it worked pretty well. The display isn’t Apple Watch quality, but it was bright enough as we were playing around with it in an office.
The biggest thing is how light the PowerWatch 2 feels. Despite being around the same weight as the original PowerWatch, it’s 1mm thinner at 14mm, which makes a surprising difference. That’s largely thanks to Matrix finding ways to slim down its thermoelectric technology to pack in features like heart rate, GPS and solar power. What we weren’t able to try out was much of the software, or the new iOS and Android companion app, which includes Google Fit and Apple Health support.
The PowerWatch 2 has launched on Indiegogo for an early-bird price of $200 (which is $300 less than its full $499 price). The smartwatch is estimated to ship in June, but Boukai says the PowerWatch 2 is more ahead of schedule than the first generation PowerWatch was at this point if you’re interested in buying one.
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