WIMM Labs and the WIMM One smartwatch

Although the Wimm One was a great start in wearables from Wimm Labs, Google made sure that a Wimm Two would never make it to the smartwatch market.

In 2011, a smartwatch was launched that caught the attention of the technological industry. Using both Android and a custom UI, the Wimm One was an impressive smartwatch. Although not the best looking of the bunch, its functions were comparable to smartwatches that had been released by big names like Motorola and Sony. Founded in 2008 by Dave Morring, Wimm Labs’ first endeavor was to develop the turnkey developer platform, which worked with Android phones and other mobile devices. This was followed by the Wimm One, which was adept as a smartwatch, but resembled a prototype. The smartwatch was well received, but less than a year later, the company appeared to have disappeared. Sales for the Wimm One were stopped, Twitter accounts were deleted and the following was published on their website:

During the summer of 2012, Wimm Labs entered into an exclusive, confidential relationship for our technology and ceased sales of the Developer Preview Kit. We’d like to thank all of our developers for their interest and willingness to experiment with our platform and look forward to exciting advances in the wearable market.

Google acquires WIMM Labs

The website remained active for those who had purchased a Wimm One and continued to use it, but nothing else was heard from Wimm Labs for almost a year. In August of 2013, Google confirmed that they’d acquired the company as a part of an exclusive deal. This was a surprise to some, as it had been speculated that Apple had bought the company for its upcoming Apple Watch launch. Some of the junior staff and most of the senior kept their positions under Google, working with the Android Wear team on its development. This was a smart move, as Wimm Labs was one of the few companies at that time to develop ways for third parties to build micro-apps off of its platform. These applications made it possible for the Wimm One to work independently from the connected smartphone for more functions, while keeping notifications intact. Some of these independent applications are still available at Wimm’s beta app store. Users can find apps to control an Android mobile phone remotely, including making phone calls, launching playlists, and silencing the phone. Non smartphone apps include list managers, sport score tracking, and an app to enable you to pay for your latte at Starbucks (in the US). Not surprisingly, the Google app store is now structured the same way. Android Wear provides the basics for an easy-to-use platform which users customise by picking and choosing from a large array of unique apps. Android Wear is the cookie cutter platform that looks the same no matter what type or brand of smartwatch it is supporting, and the Google app store is where you go to buy the sprinkles and frosting to make it your own. Making it even more appealing is that a large majority of those apps are free downloads.

Who benefits from Wimm Labs and its Wimm One smartwatch?

Google isn’t the only company benefiting from its acquisition of Wimm Labs. With its launch of Android Wear, a number of smartwatch companies abandoned their own Android platforms in favour of this highly developed one. The technology allowed them to create smartwatches which the consumer could easily identify with and integrate into their life as a wearable. These companies, and their smartwatches include:
  • Sony and their Smartwatch 3
  • LG with its LG G Watch and LG G Watch R
  • Asus’ Zenwatch
  • Samsung Gear Live
  • Motorola’s Moto 360
Each of these smartwatches is unique in its look and hardware, but the software running them is based off what Wimm Labs developed in 2011. We’re calling this one an incredible achievement for a small electronics development company.

The Wimm One

For those who never had the opportunity to see or own the Wimm One before Wimm Labs merged with Google, it was constructed of hard plastic with a transflective bi-model screen. Available in black and white, the mirrored back of the display made it easier to read. The screen never powered down, which was an issue for the battery life. Wimm One used two radios for connectivity with other devices. The first was a Wi-Fi radio, which only activated when data was being synced between the smartwatch and a mobile device. Bluetooth 2.1 was used to maintain connection between the devices. Smartphones running Android, Blackberry or iOS were all compatible with Wimm One, although it had a better range of functions with Android operating systems. Overall, the Wimm One was well received. So well received in fact, that it caught the eye of Google, who was at the time thinking of a smartwatch platform of their own. Being acquired by Google enabled Wimm Labs to continue with a worldwide company that had the money required to take their innovative ideas to the next level. There’s no denying that Android Wear has revolutionised wearables. Like with mobile phones, there’s likely to be many more innovations, changes and improvements in the future. But the small company once known as Wimm Labs will forever have a place in the early history of the development of functional smartwatches.

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