Has Casio Perfected the Digital Watch?
I like the sound of that! Now that Casio feels they have essentially perfectedtimekeeping, what's next? According to the article, Mr. Kashio seems to believethat a great deal of Casio's existing and past digital watch technology is "gimmicky" andthat "a breakthrough is near." He doesn'tget into details, but I think we can assume the gimmicky technology includes thingslike the camera, MP3, remote control, PDA, and GPS watches Casio has experimentedwith. As far as the breakthrough he alludes to, Mr. Kashio hints at credit cardand mobile phone related functionality. In fact, Casio has already announced thesolar powered Casio GWS-900 G-Shock which uses RFID technology to allow driversto pay for their gas electronically at certain gas stations in Japan.Mr. Kashio realizes that the key to expanding the capabilities of digital watchesis going to be powering them. Both Casio and Citizen have proven that tiny solarcells and batteries can easily gather and store enough energy to power quartz movementsfor months. Casio has even demonstrated that relatively small amounts of lightcan generate enough energy to power watches with both analog and digitalreadouts, atomic time calibration, and several functions like alarms, a countdowntimer, world time, electroluminescent backlight, and more. Seiko has taken a differentapproach to the problem of power by combining traditional self-winding energy generationtechniques with rechargeable batteries and quartz movements into what they callkinetic watches. All these approaches are great for driving relatively low-poweredfunctionality,but it's not going to power a miniature mobile phone.Casio's solar powered atomic watches are the ultimate in digital watch technology,says Kazuo Kashio, president and Chief Executive Officer of Casio. According tothisarticle in the Times Online, Mr. Kashio (or, as we Westerners might pronounceit, "Casio"),believes watches that don't require batteries and that are always correctare pretty much the perfect digital watches."From my experience of the watch business, I think I can say that our solar-poweredwatches that set themselves by radio control are the ultimate form of watchwe can expect. Look, they are never inaccurate by as much as a second and neverneed batteries."As a big fan of Casio digital watch technology myself, I was worried when I firstread Mr. Kashio's words. Was he implying that Casio is done innovating?Was one of the most important electronic companies in the world about to back-burnertheir watch business in order to devote more resources to things like digital camerasor their new cell phones? As it turns out, it meant just the opposite:"So this leaves the major question of what else will watches do other thantell the time? Wrist-based machines, that is the future, and we have a lot ofdreams on that score. It’s going to become the ultimate mobile gadget thatyou can’tdrop.".