Technology 5 min read

Why Solar Powered Watches are the Next Step in Smartwear

Solar Powered Watches are set to become one of the biggest tech developments of 2019. | Image via LunaR

Solar Powered Watches are set to become one of the biggest tech developments of 2019. | Image via LunaR

Solar powered watches have come a long way in the past few years, with a number of newly released devices adding fuel to the solar power flame.

Solar-powered watches certainly aren’t a new thing. Although pretty basic until recently, solar powered watches have been around in some form since the late 1970s.

Coming into 2019, smart wear as a whole is on the rise. With hundreds of companies developing smart clothing and integrated devices, it’s set to be an exciting year for wearable tech. Of the thousands of new smart wear devices on the market today, one of the most promising are solar powered watches.

Today we ask a lot more from our watches than just telling the time. In recent years, we’ve seen the introduction of smartwatches that can count your steps, measure your heartbeat, and even integrate with your other devices.

However, battery life is always an issue with smartwatches, with some having to be recharged almost daily.

Now, a number of startups believe they may have cracked this issue — a truly solar-powered smartwatch. Two companies, Matrix and LunaR, took two separate approaches in creating their flagship solar watches, but both seem extremely promising.

Read More: New Flexible Electronics Breakthrough Brings Techwear Ever Closer

The Matrix Powerwatch — The Solar Giant Killer

Matrix Powerwatch solar powered watches
The PowerWatch 2, a solar-powered watch that could send the smart wear giants running. | Matrix Industries

Matrix Industries, a company specializing in body heat absorption, recently showcased an updated version of their solar watch — the Matrix Powerwatch.

Founded in 2011, Matrix Industries seized hold of a gap in the smart wear market in 2016 with the announcement of their solar-powered smartwatch.

After receiving $1.6m from a crowdfunding campaign, they released the Powerwatch 1, a smartwatch that runs entirely on the user’s body heat.

Although impressive, it did lack functionality and appeal in an industry flooded with high tech and lightweight devices. Now, with the release of the Powerwatch 2, Matrix Industries might send even the biggest smartwatch giants running.

The Powerwatch 2 is a solar powered watch that is capable of far more than just telling the time. Keeping up with the competitors, this solar watch can measure your steps, heart rate, and can even track your location.  It does this by harvesting energy both from ambient light and the user’s body-heat, meaning it never has to be charged by the user.

Matrix Industries also designed the device to be extremely durable. It comes with a strong aluminum case and water resistance for up to 200 meters. The company seems to be focusing on the outdoor market, with the solar watch being more than capable of holding up against the lifestyle of the average hiker.

Although it doesn’t support third-party apps, it provides more than enough features for the user’s daily routine. As an added feature, it also measures its energy intake from the user’s body heat. This means it constantly measures your energy output while you’re wearing it, showing just how lucrative the wearables industry could soon be.

This brings us to the second solar-powered smartwatch — the LunaR smartwatch.

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Shooting for the Moon with LunaR

LunaR solar powered smart watches
With some exceptional capabilities, the LunaR smartwatch shows how far solar watches have come. | Image via LunaR

LunaR, like Matrix Industries, funded the majority of their development through a crowdfunding campaign. After raising over $250,000, the company released their flagship solar watch that shows the potential of future solar smart wear.

The LunaR watch certainly doesn’t have as many features as the PowerWatch, but its capabilities are still impressive. LunaR’s solar watch lets you receive message notifications, set multiple local times, and track your steps.

It even pairs with your phone for features like music player control and remote camera capabilities. Most of these features, however, rely on your smartphone for full capability.

The watch itself only has a minimal LED display, which doesn’t have much potential for in-depth displays or functionality. The most interesting feature about this watch is, of course, its solar power source.

The fully transparent solar cell keeps the watch charged practically indefinitely. Although minimal in its design, it’s an exciting product showing how much can be achieved with solar-powered watches today.

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Bright Future for Solar Powered Watches

Many available devices, including smartphones, can measure activity levels like your step count or heartbeat. Despite this, many miss the mark by either being too specialized or too generic.

Devices like the Fitbit might be great at measuring your activity during a run or gym session. Despite their practicality, however, they’re not something that you can bring with you 24/7.

Like most other devices, they also need to be charged. The Powerwatch 2 and the LunaR solar watch might just be the perfect product for the ever-growing tech wear industry.

With transparent solar cells becoming more advanced and powerful by the day, it’s only a matter of time before tech giants like Apple begin to turn their developers towards solar powered watches of their own.

Do you think smartwatches have a future? Or will other integrated tech soon take their place?

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    John Usrey March 26 at 1:34 am GMT

    Fantastic features.

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