Neptune unveils dummy-screen accessories and plans for first prototype

Simon Tian has been busy since we last talked to him. You remember Simon, he’s the founder of Neptune. This Montreal based company says that other smart watch makers – Samsung and Apple included – are doing it wrong.

Instead of making a smart watch that pairs with a smartphone, Tian is making a wrist computer that powers several “dumb” accessory screens. Since we last talked, Neptune has released its Suite of screens that will work with its Hub device.

There’s the pocket screen – a smartphone sized device. The tab screen – yes, that’s a tablet sized device. And a wireless keyboard to use the tab more like a laptop. There’s also an HDMI dongle that plugs into any monitor or TV screen, and a pair of wireless headphones designed to look like a necklace. The Neptune Hub streams its display to any of these screens via WiGig. It’s a new technology for video streaming that Tian says will result in no latency.

Last time we talked to him, Tian was planning to sell his products on Neptune’s site alone. But crowd funding site Indiegogo reached out and asked to help sell the Suite. Tian says Indiegogo provided free promotional services for the sales campaign. It also helped with defining the perks available at each price point.

As of March 26, the campaign has raised $918,000 on Indiegogo’s site. But that includes the $740,000 that Neptune had previously raised in the sales campaign on its own site.

According to Tian, “it’s hard to say” if the campaign is going better with Indiegogo’s help. But he did raise $100,000 on the first day of launching on the site. He says there was a huge surge in web traffic and interest.

Just about every tech blog on the web has covered Neptune by now. The concept of reversing the relationship between a wearable and a mobile device has got a lot of attention. But it also has its skeptics.

The Verge says Neptune’s goal is “possibly too ambitious.” Android Police said Neptune’s concept “makes no sense.” VentureBeat points out that Tian only brought non-functional prototypes to a demo with press.

Tian recognizes this. He says that while reaction to his concept have been positive, “there have been some concerns on execution and whether the technology is there.” After all, remember this is a 21-year-old that dropped out of school to pursue this hardware startup.

But remember, Neptune did build the Neptune Pine and ship it. So it’s made hardware before. And Tian says he’s achieved proof of concept on the Neptune Suite. Testing the WiGig technology for streaming saw that there was no latency, for example.

Prototypes that look like the product we’ve seen in these rendered images are coming later this summer, Tian says. Since his product is so different, he can’t just build it with off-the-shelf components. Much of it is a custom job. For example, the antennae have to be laser etched on the outer facing.

As for the surprising price point of just $599 for the whole Neptune Suite, Tian says that is the sort of cost savings you get when you don’t need a powerful processor in every screen you want to use.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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