(Pocket-lint) - Swiss watch makers are finally stepping into the 21st century by announcing smartwatches.
Within the last few weeks, notable Swiss watch makers like Frederique Constant, Alpina, and Mondain have unveiled new timepieces. Although they're luxury watches with connectivity and really smart features for tracking activity and monitoring sleep, the companies behind them didn't just magically become powerhouses at interpreting human motion and health. They've just partnered with Fullpower.
Fullpower and Union Horlogere Holdings created a Geneva-based join venture that aims to bridge the gap between smartwatches and traditional timepieces. Fullpower is the right company to do that, too, because it's the brainchild behind MotionX. You might've heard of this nifty platform before, as it's available in several Jawbone products, but chances are...you have no idea what it does and what it's all about.
When Swiss watch makers begin releasing their watches this summer, they'll be loaded with Fullpower technology and MotionX, so keep reading to learn more about what that means and how it could benefit you. Pocket-lint even briefly spoke to Fullpower's co-founder.
What is Fullpower?
Fullpower is a Santa Cruz-based private company that makes wearable device technology for tracking activity and monitoring sleep.
Who is behind Fullpower?
Philippe Kahn and Sonia Lee founded Fullpower in 2003.
Kahn is the former CEO of Borland, the founder of Starfish Technologies, a self-proclaimed inventor of the camera phone, and a sailing aficionado, among many other things. Kahn is also married to Lee. Apart from her involvement in Fullpower, she co-founded Starfish and served as president of the company for four years. She also worked as a designer with the Basic Industry Research Laboratory at Northwestern University.
What is MotionX?
In an interview with Pocket-lint, Fullpower's co-foudner and CEO, Philippe Kahn, described Motion X as a “patented sleep and activity monitoring ecosystem that includes circuit design, sensor-fusion firmware, communications stacks, smartphone apps, and cloud infrastructure”.
According to Kahn, MotionX is an ecosystem that can help everyone improve their sleep and be more active. MotionX provides wearable devices with all the primary functions required to accurately track activity and monitor sleep. It fits any flexible form factor, such as miniature smart bands (like the Jawbone UP) and smart watches (like the Mondaine Helvetica watch), Kahn said.
Simply put: MotionX is a platform/suite of integrated firmware, software, apps, and communication components. It launched 7 years ago for smartphones and is used today in many wearable devices from major companies, including Nike, Jawbone, Frederique Constant, Mondaine, and others. It also has support for both Android and iOS.
Fullpower kicked off MotionX in 2008 by starting out small; it was basically an app developer.
The company's first app was MotionX-Poker, a multi-touch and motion-based dice game for the iPhone. That same year, Fullpower released the MotionX-GPS app for iPhone, which acted like a handheld GPS for runners hikers, sailors, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Piggy-backing of the success of that app, Fullpower released another GPS app just for drivers (called MotionX-GPS Drive for iPhone).
Fullpower also launched Nike+ GPS (now called Nike+ Running) in 2010 for tracking human motion, and then two years later, the company came out with MotionX 24/7. It's a popular app with functions for sleep analysis, heart rate monitoring, and activity monitoring.
Before we dive into how MotionX technology is currently used in wearables today, let’s discuss the technology’s various aspects:
MotionX first and foremost supplies wearable devices with algorithms, as well as communication capabilities, cross-platform apps (for iOS, Android, and Windows), a cloud infrastructure to support interaction, data retrieval and presentation, updates, and more.
It's important to remember that most wearables and fitness bands feature a battery, processors, an accelerometer, Bluetooth, an antenna, and other hardware components, but they need software in order for said components to function, recognise each other, and work together. They also need software in general for management, communication, data interpretation and collection, and deciphering different types of motion.
That last bit is key. Wearable devices already have components that can detect movement signals (and transmit, process, and store those signals), but software is required for accurately interpreting and distinguishing those signals. In other words: your wearable device must run specific, smart software in order to determine if you're running or biking or sitting or cycling.
It's not enough for your wearable to know you're moving; it should have algorithms that know exactly what you're doing.
Fullpower has spent years measuring and estimating natural human motion and even sleep. It's watched many different people, activities, and situations to yield a precise and unique data set that is factored into the company's algorithm development process. Fullpower's original research has earned it an intellectual property portfolio that covers algorithms and includes patents for IoT, health, fitness, and sensors.
It's worth noting that Apple recently revealed it has a secret, gym-like lab, in which it has been testing Apple employees for four years, all with the purpose of collecting and analyzing data that can help the Apple Watch standout. Well, Fullpower has been doing a similar same thing: "Fullpower has both sleep and activity labs and has been focused on studying the biomechanics of natural human motion since 2003," Kahn told Pocket-lint.
All that health and sleep research went toward developing MotionX. It is compatible with cable- and Bluetooth-based wearable devices and can not only track activity and monitor sleep, but it can also retrieve data from your device, send said data to a cloud-based platform, display said data via a phone app, managing user accounts, deliver updates, provide connections to social media, etc.
It's an end-to-end ecosystem designed for wearables, backed by original research.
What are MotionX's key components?
Apart from everything we discussed above, MotionX has three key components:
- Sleeptracker Platform - Tracks your sleep patterns within 95 per cent accuracy of polysomnograpy machines
- Motion Activity Tracking Platform - Encapsulates years of research on the biomechanics of natural human motion
- Sensor-Fusion Inference Engine - Delivers data as actionable information/ delivers predictive motion solutions
Fullpower has described all the components within MotionX as an "end-to-end, plug-and-play, ultra-low power solution" designed for wearables and Internet of Things devices, including fitness bands, smartwatches, pods and garments.
What is Manufacture Modules Technologies?
Swiss watch makers are starting to add sleep- and activity-tracking features to their timepieces, and they're doing so with the help of Fullpower. You'll soon be able to find Fullpower's MotionX technology in new smartwatches from Frederique Constant, Alpina, and Mondaine, all thanks to Geneva-based Manufacture Modules Technologies. It is a new Swiss Joint Venture SARL formed by Fullpower and Union Horlogere Holdings.
MMT has one mission: to bring Fullpower's MotionX Horological Smartwatch Open Platform to the Swiss watch industry. It'll start by helping Swiss watch makers launch Horological smartwatches. Fullpower will handle the schematic design, firmware, apps, and cloud infrastructure of the watches, while MMT will manage the Swiss watch movement development as well as licensing and support for the Swiss watch industry.
These Swiss Horological smartwatches are meant to bridge the gap between smartwatches and traditional timepieces. They'll also work with iPhone and Android apps and feature an analog screen, laser cut hands, two-year battery life, always-on-time and date, adaptive coaching, MotionX activity tracking, MotionX Sleeptracker sleep monitoring, and MotionX cloud backup and restore.
You can expect 10 different Horological smartwatch models from Frederique Constant, Alpina, and Mondaine starting in June 2015.
Which devices currently use MotionX?
If you don't want to wait for the new MotionX Swiss Horological smartwatches, you can download Fullpower's MotionX apps to start experiencing MotionX sleep and activity tracking through your smartphone. You can also pick up one of the following MotionX-powered devices:
- Jawbone UP band
- Jawbone ERA bluetooth headset
- Jawbone UP24
What does Fullpower think of Apple Watch?
With Apple Watch just weeks away from hitting store shelves, and MotionX-powered Swiss watches landing soon after, Pocket-lint asked Fullpower's CEO what he thought about Apple Watch, considering Fullpower will essentially be competing with Apple. Kahn said he looks at Apple Watch as a "fantastic opportunity" as well as a "great opportunity" for MotionX.
"That’s because we are complementary: two-plus years of battery life, focus on on high-quality sleep monitoring and activity, smaller form factors, multiple iconic designs and brands, and support for all smartphones including Android and iOS," he said, listing off MotionX's feature set, but he also emphasised that Apple Watch requires an iPhone and MotionX currently has integrated solutions and apps for both iPhone and Android.
Want to know more?
Check out Fullpower's MotionX website for more details about the platform and MotionX-powered devices. You can also visit Fullpower's YouTube channel to see several videos about MotionX and its various components and features.