If you want to be on the forefront of smartwatch technology, Qualcomm is charging $350 for the privilege.
That’s how much Qualcomm’s experimental Toq smartwatch will cost when it launches on December 2. It’ll be available directly through Qualcomm’s website for U.S. customers only.
Much like other smartwatches on the market now, Toq will act as an extension of your smartphone (Android-only, for now). It can show notifications from smartphone apps, accept or reject phone calls, fire off canned text messages and display widgets for weather and stocks.
As my colleague Harry McCracken reported, Qualcomm doesn’t see Toq as a mass-market product, but as an experiment that shows off the company’s Mirasol display technology. Mirasol combines a full color display with low power consumption, making it ideal for a smartwatch. Qualcomm claims that Toq can last for five days on a charge, and the screen stays on at all times, unlike Samsung’s AMOLED-powered Galaxy Gear.
It helps that Qualcomm has built in some other power-saving measures, such as a backlight that you can turn on manually in dark rooms and the option to use a touch-sensitive strip instead of the full touchscreen. The battery is built into the wristband to reduce the bulk of the watchface, and users can recharge the watch by dropping it into a wireless charging dock.
Smartwatches haven’t taken off, partly because the technology isn’t good enough yet, and partly because simple apps and notifications aren’t enough to convince people that they should start wearing watches again. Virtual assistant software such as Google Now could help make a stronger argument, while new display technology such as Mirasol will lead to better-looking hardware. Qualcomm’s hoping some tech enthusiasts will pay to see all the pieces fall into place.