Smartlet turns your iPhone into an iWatch today - check out the hands-on video here!

Q & A with Smartlet creator David Soofian

By Adam Zeis on 2 Jan 2014 10:37 am
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We recently saw a new project hit Kickstarter for a different type of wearable. It's not quite a smartwatch and not quite a phone holster, but it's somewhere in between. Smartlet is a simple wrist strap for your iPhone that keeps your device ready to go when you need it. 

The idea is simple — strap the Smartlet to your wrist and slide in your iPhone to the "unidirectional locking mechanism" and you phone is safe and sound on your wrist. It's there but it's not. If you get a call or notification just pick up your wrist to check it out — no worrying about first looking at your watch, then pulling out your phone. You can easily type out messages while the phone is in the Smartlet, make voice calls or have a chat with Siri. 

We had a chance to chat with Smartlet creator David Soofian to get some more background on the new product.

Adam: Why did you come up with the idea to do this?

David: I was frustrated with the state of smartwatches. I had been waiting for a wearable product that wouldn’t just be an overpriced companion device and, when I got tired of waiting, I decided to create Smartlet.

There were a couple of niche products out there that let you wear your iPhone, but none of them satisfied what I was looking for: 1) minimalist design - I wanted to be able to wear my iPhone on my wrist without having to mask it in a bulky case; 2) easy access to my smartphone - I wanted to be able to easily grab my iPhone and use it with two hands; and 3) security -  I needed to know that my iPhone was securely locked into place.

Adam: What's the primary usage case? What’s your pitch to convince somebody they should want one?

David: I have been wearing prototypes of Smartlet for about a year now and have found that it’s most useful when I’m out and about. I never have to fumble around looking for my iPhone in a pocket or bag. If you get a call, email, or text, you can view the alert with a flick of your wrist and, if it requires your full two-handed attention, you can remove your iPhone with one quick swipe.

Smartlet is especially useful when you don’t have free hands. I have used it to look at messages while carrying groceries, get turn-by-turn directions while cycling, and listen to Pandora while cooking in the kitchen. People should want a Smartlet because it makes their iPhone more convenient without it getting in the way.

Adam: What makes Smartlet better than a Smartwatch?

David: Smartlet gives you the full capabilities of your smartphone on your wrist, unlike today’s smartwatches that only deliver a smaller subset of your phone’s functionality.

The Pebble, for example, raised an impressive amount on Kickstarter and poses a real challenge to the big brands. But at this point, it doesn’t do more than serve as a window to your smartphone. You might be able to view an incoming call on your Pebble, but you still have to fish inside your pockets or bag and scramble to find your smartphone to answer it in time. Ditto for the Qualcomm Toq. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear promises to make the smartwatch less of a companion device, but it’s still a far cry from a fully functional smartphone. Plus, smartwatches are expensive and they’re yet another piece of technology you have to charge. With Smartlet, you have all of the capabilities of your smartphone in a super convenient location.

Adam: How secure is the Smartlet? What's to prevent someone from snatching my phone right off my wrist?

David: Smartlet secures your iPhone using a patent-pending unidirectional locking mechanism. What that means is that your iPhone is completely secured in every direction, except that with enough force you can pull your iPhone towards your hand and out of Smartlet. Thus, Smartlet keeps your iPhone just as safe as, if not more than, holding your iPhone in your hands.  

Adam: What are your plans beyond Kickstarter - different models? Support for additional devices?

David: Kickstarter is only the beginning. In the more immediate future, I hope to expand beyond the iPhone 5/5S to develop Smartlets for other devices, especially Androids. I’d also like to produce our current Smartlet in more colors and with varying styles of bands so that people can customize their Smartlets to suit their personal style.  

I also envision a second generation of Smartlets that adds even more functionality to the convenience of Gen One. In particular, I am currently working on ways to take pictures with a smartphone while wearing Smartlet, use Smartlet to hold other important items such as credit cards, and take advantage of RFID technology coupled with Android phones.

Smartlet is currently working its way toward a Kickstarter goal of $30,000 over the next few weeks. We backed this one already, but you can help fund the project and find out more on the Smartlet Kickstarter page

Think the Smartlet is a good idea? Hit up the comments and tell us what you think!

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Chief Smartwatch Fan" 261 (articles) 78 (forum posts)
13 comments

Becjr

This is an interesting idea. My first thought was how easy it might be for someone in a crowd to yank it from your wrist but it sounds [reads] like you've covered all the bases. It's a bit big for me personally and not exactly what I was looking for in an iWatch, but best of luck on your endeavor. :D

Kevin Michaluk

After recently getting "mugged" for my wrist watch on a metro in Paris, this was my first thought too when looking at it. 

I backed it on kickstarter. Not sure if it would be the kind of thing I'd personally use daily, but could see it being uber useful for specific application uses. Am sure it would differ for each person. Gotta get one and try it!

GetSmartlet

Thanks, guys! We definitely appreciate the concerns about security and have been working hard to make sure it's as secure as possible without detracting from convenience.

Becjr

And nothing says you have to wear it on the outside of your arm. When I wore a watch, I always oriented the face to the inside of my wrist.

dtuivs

I was thinking about tying my BlackBerry to my wrist. But now that I'm seeing it in action with someone else, I'm wondering if it's too much?

justreboot

I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn't April yet. Seriously? Who would do this?

frettfreak

Not trying to be that guy but this is pretty ridiculous. Is this a joke or real? I dont even have words except wow.

spencerdl

Kool idea, just not for me...I prefer a smartwatch

gameboy213

This has to be a joke right?

travaz

I think it would be useful for a certain segment of devices. A galaxy note 3 I don't think so

glazedfaith

I think it's a great concept. I also think that it will without a doubt result in people being mugged for their smartphone. And if that weren't a risk, I don't see how something that large on your wrist would be convenient. My arm feels heavy when I put on a nice watch, and a phone weighs at least double that. The purpose of a smartwatch is so that you can access phone features in a small, ever-present form factor. There's a reason they didn't give the Pebble a 4" screen.

That being said, good luck to the designers. I'm sure not everyone thinks like me.

cbfan123

I think this is more of a situational use rather than for daily use.

DWR_31

Okay here's my observation.
1. No real protection from dings and scratches. (This device has you, for lack of a better term, "wearing your heart on your sleeve".)
2. No protection from the elements. (People's arms are constantly moving about outside of our clothing that protect our skin from extreme heat and cold and moisture.)
3. Size Matters! (Think about what I'm about to say, "Gauntlet".)
4. Screen Orientation. (Disregarding any other flaws, there needs to be some sort of dedicated landscape screen orientation lock.)

Seriously, a person can get better overall functionality by strapping a arm band sports pouch for phones on their forearm.