Acer is leaping into the corporate bandwagon as its unveiled Tuesday, April 29, its very own wearable smartband named Liquid Leap.
At a press event in New York, Acer executives introduced two new entry-level tablets, Iconia One and Iconia Tab 7, but it was the announcement of a new smartphone that will come with a companion smartwatch that pricked up ears.
The new smartphone is called Liquid Jade and will come with its own companion device, the Liquid Leap. Details are slim at the moment, but Acer says it hopes to release both Liquid Jade and Liquid Leap into select markets in the United States sometime in July.
The 17-mm Liquid Leap is equipped with sensors to measure a number of unspecified health metrics and record fitness information.
Andrew Williams of Trusted Reviews got hold of two Liquid Leaps, one red and one black. Williams calls it a "rudimentary device that works with your phone best." While Williams did not find a notable feature that will make Liquid Leap different from other wearable technology products, he speculates that its success may largely depend on its price, which Acer has not revealed yet.
Liquid Leap appears like a cross between a Samsung Gear Fit and a Garmin Vivofit, as per Williams. It is a slim and simple device with a small OLED screen and a rubber band with a clasp at the back.
Williams notes that the Liquid Leap is not just a smartband. It is a smartwatch that can tell the time and can be hooked to a smartphone - presumably the Liquid Jade - so users can receive notifications via their Liquid Leap. It also tracks various exercises and can possibly tell what activities the user is doing.
Acer also reportedly told Williams that Liquid Leap has an impressive battery life of five days without charging. To charge a Liquid Leap, the user simply has to hook the device to a charging dock, says Williams.
Williams also noted that Liquid Leap does not have integrated GPS or a heart sensor similar to that found in Gear Fit and Withings' Pulse.
Acer has been known as a PC-maker for years, but with PC sales outnumbered by mobile, newly appointed Acer chief executive Jason Chen believes it is time to "turn Acer around" and make its way into "adjacent markets." He also announced that Acer is going to release at least two new products every year from now on.
Although the wearable technology industry is fairly young, research firm IDC believes that the global shipment of wearable devices will reach up to 19 million units by the end of 2014. If current trends continue, the figures could grow by 78% to 112 million units sold in 2018, says the firm.
Sony, Samsung and Nike were among the first companies to introduce smartbands and smartwatches, while Google has taken over the smart glasses category.
Acer has long been planning to break into the wearable devices industry, with Acer's president of the smartphone business group ST Liew saying last year that consumers should expect a new wearable device from Acer in 2014.