We've spent most of this week in Barcelona gawking at phones and watches that boast brushed metal and glass designs. So it was refreshing to see something completely different like the Runcible, a smart pocket watch from Monohm. It's nothing if not the most unique thing we've seen this week.
As George Arriola, founder and CPO of Monohm, tells me, the Runcible is meant to remove us from how we're so buried in our phones. That might be a more noble goal if it wasn't being promised everywhere we look these days. The Apple Watch promises a "glance" feature, phone makers offer ways to see notifications without unlocking your phone, and there's plenty of wearables, smartwatches, and accessories that are meant to keep us from using our phones so often.
The Runcible is weird but it's fun to hold
The circular device curves back out from the screen to form a comfortable saucer shape, and it is a fun device to hold. One of the prototype models we saw had a maple wood back cover, and it had a premium look and feel. Those covers are swappable, too — the consumer versions will offer other materials like tin, copper, brass, and other woods. Oh, and it makes phone calls, too.
The Runcible runs Firefox OS, and Monohm is using the platform to experiment with some unique features. For one, the camera will take circular photos and videos. It will also take advantage of the device's shape. Users will be able to rotate the Runcible to focus and zoom, and the consumer version will be able to interact with the OS on the ringed bezel as well as the touch screen.
Monohm is also working on accessories that will plug into what will eventually be a reversible USB port, things like watch chains and leather cases, all which will help complete the pocket watch analogy.
Let's be clear: we're talking about a niche device here. Monohm knows it as well as we do. It won't be any easier to embrace when you consider the price, either, which I was told will be just under the cost of an unlocked flagship device. But in the era of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, there's something cool about a company making a bold piece of hardware without relying on crowdfunding. Monohm has a vision of the future, it just happens to heavily call on the past.