Matrix’s PowerWatch 2 needs no charger, uses body heat and solar power
A color smartwatch that never needs charging
Matrix is back at CES this year with the PowerWatch 2, a follow-up to last year’s wearable that was powered entirely by the body heat emitted from your wrist. For the second iteration, Matrix has made a surprising amount of progress, because the PowerWatch 2 has evolved from a black-and-white screen to a 1.2-inch color display, with support for thermometric and solar charging, as well as with GPS and fitness tracking. The main attraction remains the same: this is a watch that never needs to be plugged in to charge.
Back in 2016, Matrix brought us the PowerWatch, a smartwatch powered only by body heat. Since then the company has launched the PowerWatch X, and has now unveiled the PowerWatch 2 with a number of upgrades – including the additional of a solar panel.
That means you can either use your own energy or the sun’s energy in place of the regular battery that other smartwatches rely on. If you don’t want to have to have your smart wearable sat on the desk charging each night, this is one way around it.
Other improvements ushered in with the PowerWatch 2 include a color screen for the first time, and a GPS sensor for getting location fixes without the aid of a linked smartphone. A custom software OS is on board, designed by Matrix itself, which includes support for Google Fit, Apple HealthKit, and Strava, and can display alerts from an wirelessly connected Android or iOS smartphone.
Those third-party integrations are augmented by native apps covering most of the fitness tracking functions you’re going to need (including heart rate monitoring), with everything syncing back to the official companion apps. The watch can monitor sleep patterns and will even tell you how much body heat you’re generating.
The solar cell is placed underneath the 1.2-inch screen and works alongside the thermoelectric system in the watch to make new power-hungry features like a color display and GPS possible. It’s good for a swim too, waterproof to 200 meters (656 ft).
“PowerWatch 2 is designed with improved thermoelectric generators and all-new solar-cell technology, constantly generating more than enough energy to operate the built-in intelligent heart rate monitor, wherever, whenever,” explains Matrix.
When the watch isn’t on your body it goes into a sleep mode that draws a very small amount of current, Matrix says. This standby mode can last for up to a year, apparently.
With a diameter of 47 mm (1.85 in) and a thickness of 16 mm (0.63 in), it’s not the most svelte of smartwatches, and that custom OS might make third-party integrations tricky (with the likes of Spotify, for instance). Those are the only potential negatives in what looks a very comprehensive package though.
The good news for smartwatch fans is that there are now a wide range of devices on the market to suit most needs and budgets – from the cheaper, efficient Fitbit watches, to the ever-improving Apple Watch, to the high-end, high-performance Garmin models.
Matrix is currently crowdfunding the PowerWatch 2, but has already smashed through its target of US$100,000. The smartwatch is expected to eventually retail for $499 in June 2019, but early bird pledges start at $199 at the time of writing. As with any crowdfunded project though, there’s no guarantee the device will make it to market.
Product page: Indiegogo