Smart Canvas WOW “Factory and Fantasy” report 1/3

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WOW’s original Factory and Fantasy version of the Smart Canvas wristwear is a product that fuses new EPD panel technology with WOW’s creative finesse. The 2010 exhibition “SMART CANVAS x 8 ‘What is time?’ new interpretations of time by 8 creators” at Tokyo Midtown was the inspiration for this product, which took three years to commercialize. During that time, WOW collaborated with SEIKO EPSON to try and select functions needed for watches in addition to even more advanced methods for expression. Offering a display that implements electronic paper technology, this wristwear can tell time in rich 300 dpi graphics and is freed from the confines of numbers and moving hands of traditional watches. WOW has tirelessly investigated how to utilize this freedom of expression and visually relay the concept of “time.”
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The Smart Canvas series has the shared concept of “traveling through time.” It was necessary to create a product that would transport you to a world with a special sense of time while looking at it. During development, WOW selected the original work and world view “Factory and Fantasy” from a number of different proposals. The world view of this work – which emphasizes shadows – worked perfectly with the monochrome expression of the electronic paper. Using the motif of a fantasy world and elaborate factory environment, it depicts the people living in a town with a clock tower standing predominantly at its center. The world of silhouettes gathered in this town of factory and fantasy produces an expansion of space that seems to connect deeper and deeper within. WOW strived to create a form of expression that mimics the sensation of peeking through a tiny window into a world of factory and fantasy whenever you look at the display.
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A wristwatch-sized display is the smallest design space out of all the endeavors WOW has ever set out upon. There were also a variety of difficulties in displaying on electronic paper – a platform without many comparable prior examples. However, we continued directly working with programmers to investigate the novelty of images moving around the panel, the timing to switch screens, and depth of images visible on the tiny display.  Through patient exchanges between designers and programmers continuing the search for optimal solutions, we made it possible to incorporate expressions so that the user feels a sense of “time” through visual imagery. This model is equipped with three different modes: “Factory and Fantasy Mode” – which optimizes enjoyment of a new world environment, “Clock Mode” – which provides for a simple way of telling time, and “Desktop Mode” – which allows for manipulation of the direction of characters as well as temperature display.

EPD Wrist Wear “Smart Canvas”

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 “Factory and Fantasy Mode” is an attempt to allow the user to feel time flowing through visual imagery, not just to provide the user with a standard set of numbers and characters to tell time like an ordinary watch. We utilized the properties of electronic paper to provide for a continually changing background using the entire screen. In addition to the flowing town scenery that appears on normal days, we also provided for numerous special graphics that the user is only able to see on certain days once every year. This gives the user a novel sense of discovery. We also made efforts to not be limited by the small display area and to incorporate the band area as part of the design, as well. By making sure a line stretching across the display matches with a line drawn onto the band, we succeeded in providing a sense of special expansion. This was a new type of challenge for WOW – to deliver expression to people through a familiar object that stays with them, wrapped around their wrists.
At wowlab, we will introduce two different aspects of the Smart Canvas – process and design. We plan to periodically deliver new articles on the newly redesigned wowlab website to keep you updated on this type of product process.  Please take a look.