When smartwatches first made their debut as wearables, some tech watchers were not sure of the smartwatch as a viable form factor. Witness Alex Dobie's assessment back in 2016 in Android Central:
"People don't want to poke and prod at app drawers and tiny buttons and barely-legible text. They don't want to scrawl out text messages on a keyboard the size of a quarter. If it takes more than 10 seconds to do, they're just going to take out their phone. And a phone will do all of those things better than a watch."
Shell, a mobile device from Shell Wearables, is coming in 2018 and the device relieves the problem of having to manage both. It is a smartwatch. It is a smartphone.
James Peckham, who covers phones, wearables and tablets for TechRadar, explained. "It'll look like a smartwatch until you unclip it from the body and two metal arms pop out which you use as a microphone and a speaker for phone conversations."
Digital Trends' Luke Dormehl said Shell is a mobile device combo of wrist wearable or something that is "detached from its cradle-like wrist mount and then held up to your ear" to make a phone.
They are talking about an independent smartwatch with 4G phone capabilities. A video showing the watch transform to a phone is quite interesting.
Shell comes in two parts. Smartwatch and dock. It can be used with dock and without the dock.
Expanded wings on the device have the antenna. You get standalone 4G, GSM, GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity—also, on their Commando units—radio communication. (Shell has a "rugged Commando" version. The news release said this version enables the user to eight license-free walkie-talkie channels across a 3 km range. They described their Commando model as military grade.)
According to the news release, "the wings house an impressive 12 MP camera with image stabilization." The camera can rotate a full 360° while recording or streaming video.
That's not all. They designed "custom adaptors." These are for popular smartwatch models. Adapters will allow users to get Shell's standard features via Bluetooth or WiFi.
As for charging, the company developed "a built-in manual charging solution," with energy generated by the user's hands to power the watch.
According to Dormehl's report, Shell "tackles one of the major limitations of independent wearables," creator Azar Talibzade told Digital Trends. Smartwatches evolved primarily as fitness trackers or notification centers. And now? He said "we're seeing a movement toward independent call-capable watches that can exist without needing to be physically near a user's smartphone."
Reports said the project is going live on Indiegogo from 31 January.
Where they are now: They completed designs, made prototypes. They are now turning to Indiegogo for support to bring the Shell to people's doors.
Dormehl: "Whether this design is the right approach, however, and whether potential customers agree that this is a problem that needs solving, is something we'll have to wait to find out."