Wristwatch computer

Wristwatch computer
The Fossil Wrist PDA, which runs Palm OS.

A wristwatch computer is a wearable computer that fits like a wristwatch. It may offer features similar to a PDA, palmtop or tablet computer. Similar terms which refer to the same concept are wrist computer, computer watch, wrist-top, wrist PDA and Wrist Worn PC (WWPC).

Such devices may include features such an accelerometer, thermometer, altimeter, barometer, compass, chronograph, dive computer, calculator, cell phone, GPS, graphical display, speaker, scheduler, watch, etc. It may communicate with a wireless headset, heads-up display, insulin pump, microphone, modem, or other external device.

Any computer has a data processor, memory, input and output. It may collect information from internal or external sensors. It may control, or retrieve data from, other instruments or computers. It may support wireless technologies like Bluetooth, WiFi, and GPS. However, it is possible a "wristwatch computer" may just serve as a front end for a remote system, as in the case of watches utilizing cellular technology or WiFi.



Seiko, a Japanese watch company, was one of the first to develop wrist computing technology. The first digital watch, which debuted in 1972, was the Pulsar manufactured by Hamilton Watch Company. "Pulsar" became a brand name which would later be acquired by Seiko in 1978. In 1982, a Pulsar watch (NL C01) was released which could store 24 digits, making it most likely the first watch with user-programmable memory, or "memorybank" watch.[1] With the introduction of personal computers in the 1980s, Seiko began to develop watches with computing ability. The Data 2000 watch (1983) came with an external keyboard for data-entry. Data was synced from the keyboard to the watch via electro-magnetic coupling (wireless docking). The name stems from its ability to store 2000 characters.[2] The D409 was the first Seiko model with on-board data entry (via a miniature keyboard) and featured a dot matrix display.[2] Its memory was tiny, at only 112 digits.[1] It was released in 1984 in gold, silver and black.[3] These models were followed by many others by Seiko during the 1980s, most notably the "RC Series":

Seiko RC series

The RC-1000 Wrist Terminal was the first Seiko model to interface with a computer, and was released in 1984.[2] It was compatible with most of the popular PCs of that time, including Apple II,II+ and IIe, the Commodore 64, IBM PC, NEC 8201, Tandy Color Computer, Model 1000, 1200, 2000 and TRS-80 Model I, III, 4 and 4p.

The RC-20 Wrist Computer was released in 1985.[2] It had a SMC84C00 8-bit Z-80 microprocessor; 8K of ROM and 2K of RAM. It had applications for scheduling, memos, and world time and a four-function calculator app. The dot-matrix LCD displayed 42x32 pixels, and more importantly, was touch-sensitive. Like the RC-1000, it could be connected to a personal computer, in this case through a proprietary cable. It was also notable in that it could be programmed, although its small display and limited storage severely limited application development.[2]

The RC-4000 PC Data graph also released in 1985, was dubbed the "world's smallest computer terminal".[2] It had 2K of storage. The RC-4500 (1985), also known as the Wrist Mac, had the same features as the RC-4000, but came in a variety of bright, flashy colors.

Other brands

During the 1980s, Casio began to market a successful line of "computer watches", in addition to its calculator watches. Most notable was the Casio data bank series. There was also the Nelsonic game watches and many other novelty "game watches" produced by Casio and other companies.

Linux watch

In June 2000, IBM displayed a prototype for a wristwatch that ran Linux. The original version had only 6 hours of battery life, which was later extended to 12.[4] It featured 8MB of memory and ran Linux 2.2.[5] The device was later upgraded with an accelerometer, vibrating mechanism, and fingerprint sensor. IBM began to collaborate with Citizen Watch Co. to create the "WatchPad". The WatchPad 1.5 features 320 x 240 QVGA display and runs Linux 2.4.[6] It also features calendar software, bluetooth, 8MB of DRAM and 16MB of flash memory.[7][8] Citizen was hoping to market the watch to students and businessmen, with a retail price of around $399.[8] However, the project was discontinued sometime around 2001-2002.


The ZYPAD WL 1000
Manufacturer Eurotech / Parvus
Release date 2006
Introductory price ~$2000
Operating system Windows CE 5.0 or Linux Kernel 2.6
CPU AU 1100 @ 400MHz[9]
Storage capacity Up to 64 MB Flash
Memory Up to 64 MB RAM
Display 320x240 (1/4 VGA) 256K Color 3.5" TFT
Connectivity GPS, USB, IRDA, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Weight 7 ounces (290g)
Successor ZYPAD WR 11XX

The ZYPAD is a wristwatch computer which fits on a user's wrist like a bracer and offers interface port features similar to laptop computer.[10] It was developed by Parvus, a military contractor, and Eurotech.[11] It is arguable whether it qualifies as a watch, but it is referred to as a "Wrist Worn PC". It is able to run either Linux or Windows CE, and can sense motion, allowing such possibilities of use such as going into standby mode when a user lowers his/her arm. It can determine its position by dead reckoning as well as via GPS. It supports Bluetooth, IrDA, and WiFi.[10]

The ZYPAD debuted in 2006 and the ZYPAD WL 1000 was the first marketed device, followed by the WL 1100.[12][13] Initial retail prices were set to be around $2000.[14] The Zypad WR1100 debuted in 2008 and features housing made out of high strength fiberglass-reinforced nylon-magnesium alloy and a biometric fingerprint scanner.[15]

Other examples


  1. ^ a b Doensen, Pieter. "Q.5 Watches with Memory and Database". WATCH. History of the modern wrist watch. Pieter Doensen.. http://www.xs4all.nl/~doensen/q5.html. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Seiko Computer Watch Fun". http://pocketcalculatorshow.com/nerdwatch/fun2.html. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "SEIKO D-409". Digital Watch Library. http://www.digitalwatchlibrary.com/DWL/1work/seiko-d409-5009/. 
  4. ^ Shankland, Stephen (23 March 2001). "IBM clocks in with new Linux watch". Cnet.com. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1040-254658.html. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Linux on a Wrist Watch". IBM. http://researchweb.watson.ibm.com/WearableComputing/linuxwatch/lcdwatch/factsheet.html. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  6. ^ "WatchPad 1.5". IBM. http://www.trl.ibm.com/projects/ngm/index_e.htm. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Kanellos, Michael (11 October 2001). "Linux watch: Only time will tell". Cnet.com. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1040-274286.html&tag=cd_pr. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Miyake, Kuriko (11 October 2001). "Is That a PC on Your Wrist?". PC World. http://www.pcworld.com/article/65623/is_that_a_pc_on_your_wrist.html. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "Zypad WL 1000 Specifications". http://www.zypad.com/zypad/wearablecomputers.aspx?pg=Specifications. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "ZYPAD WL 11XX". zypad.com. http://www.zypad.com/zypad/wearablecomputers.aspx?pg=Zypad%20WL%201100. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Zypad WL1000". Parvus. http://www.parvus.com/product/overview.aspx?prod=ZypadWL1000. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  12. ^ Blass, Evan (14 March 2006). "Eurotech WWPC for wrist-top computing". Engadget.com. http://www.engadget.com/2006/03/14/eurotech-wwpc-for-wrist-top-computing/. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  13. ^ Miller, Paul (26 June 2008). "WWPC gets real with ZYPAD WL 1000". Engadget.com. http://www.engadget.com/2006/06/26/wwpc-gets-real-with-zypad-wl-1000/. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  14. ^ "Seven-ounce "wrist PC" runs Linux". LinuxDevices.com. http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/Sevenounce-wrist-PC-runs-Linux/. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  15. ^ Flatley, Joseph (13 March 2008). "Zypad mil-spec wrist PC gets a refresh". http://www.engadget.com/2009/03/13/zypad-mil-spec-wrist-pc-gets-a-refresh/. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 

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