Michael Kors is hoping that “wearables” start living up to their hype. The designer today introduced his first in a line of wearable technology accessories with the Michael Kors Access display smartwatch.
The watch was made using Google’s Android Wear smartwatch platform, and was shared at Baselworld 2016, among other smartwatches from Fossil, which has this year introduced a number of styles, and Nixon (another first-timer).
The men’s and women’s watches, at $395, will be available this fall and work with both Android and iPhone smartphones. Its “smart” functionality is geared toward the social media-savvy, fashion-focused consumer. Users can swipe to change watch faces, which range from a digital chronograph to an animated pave. The watch also comes with interchangeable leather and silicon wristbands.
“I’m in the business of making people’s lives easier through fashion,” Kors said. “I thought, ‘Why can’t tech accessories be chic and glamorous?’ Technology is impacting life more and more. It should reflect your personal taste as much as anything else.”
The watches have a touchscreen display that provides social media, text and e-mail alerts; app notifications; fitness tracking; and, from Google, “smart help” and voice-activated Google.
Also from Android Wear at Baselworld this year, Fossil introduced two slimmer devices – the watch face is less bulky and thick on the wrist — called the Q Wander and the Q Marshall, and Nixon yesterday brought The Mission, a rugged smartwatch designed for action sports that provides live surf and snow condition alerts.
Android Wear has partnered with 12 brands so far. David Singleton, vice president of engineering, said since starting with devices from LG, Samsung and Motorola 360, he’s seeing interest “maturing in the ecosystem,” meaning a number of brands have developed Android Wear smartwatches and are more differentiated in design, including the first round offering.
“I really feel like this year, wearables are coming into their own as a category,” Singleton said. “There is huge interest from consumers in smart accessories.”
He said, thus far, the partnerships have been mutual — “in many cases, we are seeking each other out at same time. It’s important to feel like together we can produce an experience that will resonate, and that we work together to design a concept.”
Going forward, he said he expects even more watches designed with women in mind, mainly due to the ability to create them in smaller sizes. And, he said, “we will continue to see these get better over time.”