Rufus Labs Might Have the Biggest Smartwatch Contender Yet

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Update: the Rufus Cuff campaign has received full funding.

A start-up with an idea, a design, and strong promotional campaign kicked off the smartwatch concept with the Pebble from Pebble Technology in 2012. Others have followed up, including Sony and Samsung, but none of the small form-factor devices have set the wearables market on fire quite yet. Now, another start-up looking for crowd-sourced funding could be trying to pull it off, but at first sight, it’s clear the device from Rufus Labs has bigger things in mind than its predecessors.

The Pebble kept the idea of the smartwatch simple. It didn’t go wild trying to fit full versions of popular operating systems in the device. It kept the screen black and white to give the smartwatch a long battery life. The Pebble could be considered first and foremost a watch — just one with a lot of added features and smartphone connectivity. The ability to receive notifications pushed from a smartphone to the watch was novel and product-defining. Though the Pebble has experienced fringe success, it hasn’t brought smartwatches to the ubiquitous level of smartphones.

Sony also jumped on the smartwatch bandwagon early with its branded SmartWatch. The device went a little further than the Pebble by including a color touchscreen. However, in terms of form factor, it wasn’t too dissimilar. While a touchscreen would allow for more app interactivity, this device also didn’t take off in any huge way. It may have been marred in part by reduced connectivity with devices outside of the Sony brand, though it did support Android devices.

One of the most notable entrants to the smartwatch arena was Samsung last year with the Galaxy Gear, which had a sleek form, ran on Android, and supported the ability to talk and listen to calls placed through a smartphone. A second Galaxy Gear device, simply called the Gear 2. The new model adds a 720p-capable camera, and runs on Samsung’s own Tizen operating system. One trouble with this line of smartwatches is the dependence on Samsung smartphones, which are listed as the only compatible devices on Samsung’s website.

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