We Tried The Lenovo Magic View (Two-Screens Smartwatch)

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At its TechWorld conference (Beijing, China), Lenovo has presented a smart watch concept that features two displays. One is the regular face display that we all know, the second (the square one which looks like a solar cell) is a small projector designed to provide a much more immersive image.

How does it work you may ask? The idea is pretty straightforward: Lenovo has added a small projector to the watch. It is so small that it fits in the small space that has been added to a classic smartwatch (here, a Moto 360). It doesn’t project an image on a wall, but the user can get the watch close to the eye and look “inside” the watch – and yes, it works.

How does it feel?! First, it’s surprising that this works at all – but if you want to know how it feels, it’s a bit like looking at a 24”-30” monitor through a small hole. If you get your eyes close enough, the edge of the hole goes away, and it is fairly immersive. The thing is: you have to be really close: our eyelashes were touching the watch.

In addition to the immersion, Lenovo is using the motion sensor of the watch to allow 360 degrees (all axes) viewing when the content permits. Just turn to any directions, and the content will follow. For example, it would be possible to look at a street view in 360 degrees, while having the 2D map on the regular screen. For simple flat content, the projector shows a lot more detail than the regular screen.

This is a concept watch, so while it has made it much farther than the other prototypes (Lenovo’s CTO told us that about 1 out of 10 concepts make it this far), the usage model has not been completely worked out, and it remains to be seen if this is ever going to be commercialized.

But Lenovo is using concepts like these to push the envelope, using some of the core technologies they have developed. The Smart Cast laser-projector phone is the other hot concept from this show.

The smart watch second display experience still needs work, and it’s hard to know if users would rather look at this second screen, or pull their phones out of the pocket/purse. The impact on the battery life is also unknown at this point – but the point of all this is to fire the imagination and convey one thing: Lenovo is a creator that wants to win through innovation, not price-cutting.

In that respect, the concept watch has certainly delivered, and the TechWorld keynote audience was both entertained, and impressed. If you want to see what the screen looks like, check this cool video from Nicole Scott. The display is shown at 2:25.

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