Published on December 23rd, 2015 | by Guest0
Ticwatch by Mobvoi – The Prime Competitor to Apple Watch!
With the Apple Watch being expensive and Xiaomi yet to launch a smartwatch, a premium-looking, affordable smartwatch was missing from the market.
Presenting the Ticwatch that might close the gap. More than 16,000 backers were found on JD.com who raised nearly $1.3 million for Mobvoi, the startup that launched Ticwatch.
Building an all-Chinese smartwatch might have been the task for Lenovo, or Motorola, Xiaomi or the Apple itself. The voice search developer Mobvoi has started local and built a smartwatch that transcends the best.
Founded in 2012, Mobvoi first developed Chumen Wenwen, which is a voice recognition and search service used primarily by WeChat and Google Glass. Beijing-based Mobvoi recently received a fresh funding of $10 million.
Chumen Wenwen’s search algorithms are said to be very accurate, even when dealing with Chinese dialects and always includes social and cultural context too.
Chinese intelligent voice interaction and localization services is what Mobvoi is focusing on. Both its CEO Zhifei Li and CTO Xin Lei were part of the translation and language processing arm of Google before creating the Chinese version of the Siri, Chumen Wenwen.
The localisation is extended beyond voice controls. Nearly 30,000 people are already using Ticwear, the free OS that will be part of Ticwatch too. And Ticwear includes big Chinese apps and services that include WeChat, Weibo, Dianping, Sochou Maps, AutoNavi and the like.
Back in April this year, Mobvoi held a 24-hour hackathon where Chinese programmers competed to build Ticwear apps including pollution alerts to glowstick-like watchfaces. Thus, the Ticwatch is a smartwatch built especially for China.
The Role of Frog in Design
Mobvoi enlisted the support and help of Frog’s Shanghai studio and the company in return made some intensive market research in two weeks.
The Frog team learned that Mobvoi’s young target market wanted smartwatches that were more “idiosyncratic” than the international smartwatches. According to the research, they wanted the watch to look more like a classic watch. The personal interaction showed that the need was toned down and classic and not really being different.
Frog also asserted that the smartwatch can be used as a Tickle strip, a capacitive strip with a steel edge that is clever enough. The first design includes a 1.5-inch round touchscreen but Frog found that smartwatch owners were reluctant touching the screen. The displays are often small increasing smudges ruin the look. This led to the increased development of its voice recognition prowess.
Enhanced Voice Recognition
The embedded capacitive Tickle strip at the side of the watch enabled several basic, generic interactions including zooming and scrolling of penning interactions. The interaction design of the watch now included several functions for the smartwatch user.
User Personalization with Materials
Designing a smartwatch for China needed personalisation and the Frog team understood that in China, the youth is fickle and fashion aesthetics change day to day. Hence default straps include genuine leather and Milanese Loop, with support for standard watch straps.
The new watch is designed with a sense of playfulness and flexibility in the flavour that is part of public persona. Also one could change the watch faces to change with the outfit one wears.
Basic Specifications of the Ticwatch
Here is a gist of specifications of the Ticwatch:
- 1.5in 320 x 320 display with a Gorilla Glass 3 surface
- 1.2GB ARM Cortex A7 CPU Processor
- 4GB physical memory space, 512MB RAM
- 300mAh battery
- Wireless charging support
- IP67 waterproofing support
- 46mm diameter
- Inbuilt Heart rate monitor
- Accelerometer, gyroscope, inbuilt speakers, microphone
- Bluetooth LE support, Wi-Fi support
Interest and Investment from Google
Google’s services are not allowed in China, but the search giant has managed to make a significant investment in Mobvoi, which was earlier picked to bring Android Wear, for wearables, to China.
The size of the investment is not revealed, but Mobvoi co-founder Yuanyuan Li confirmed that the Google investment rounds up the total investment to about $75 million. Google’s investment is expected to be above $50 million, according to some sites.
The founders being ex-Googlers themselves have been following the Google model right from day one with the same culture and team values, according to the founders themselves.
Support from the Kickstarter-Like Platform JD.com
With $1.3 million – from 16,000 backers in 14 days, Mobvoi made its presence felt with JD.com, a Chinese Kickstarter-style crowdfunding platform to launch the smartwatch and even take pre-orders.
JD.com does not only raise money, but partners with companies for long term with consistent access to expertise from multiple advisers and diverse set of entrepreneurs. Its smart home platform, JD+, is meant for all manufacturers of wearable tech and IoT.
One of the directors at JD.com told Wareable that nearly 90% of crowdfunding projects at JD have managed to meet fundraising goals. Ticwatch was one of the biggest performers, with a very aggressive target. It is touted that the site reaches more than 1 million users.
Keval Padia is a Founder & CEO of Nimblechapps. He is an Android Game Developer, with acute knowledge of Mobile Game Design and User Experience Design. His vision is to become the best iOS development company, which can transform people’s idea into fully functional application at a very affordable price.