Nissan Nismo: A smart watch for your car

Nissan owners can get vehicle and driver performance metrics (along with Facebook and Twitter) on a watch created to interact with automobiles.

Nissan
The Nissan Nismo brings smart-watch technology to the auto industry.

Cars may soon come with another accessory: a smart watch.

Just before the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday, Nissan released the Nissan Nismo, a car-oriented smart watch. This is Nissan’s first foray into wearable tech, and Nissan claims this is the first smart watch that focuses on connecting the car and driver.

The unique features of the Nismo certainly set it apart as a car-oriented watch. The watch alerts drivers of vehicle performance and efficiency through speed monitoring, fuel consumption readings, and other telematics. Plus, the driver gets updates on road conditions and special messages from Nissan. The device also includes a heart-rate monitor and displays messages from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram in an app appropriately called “social speed.”

As for design, it looks less like a watch and more like a strip of the car welded into svelte timepiece form. Unlike most other smart watches that use plastic, cloth, or leather, the Nismo has a snap-fit glass band, and only comes in black, white, or black/red. The screen is built right into the curve of the band, alluding more to a tiny dashboard than a wristwatch.

Even the packaging is geared toward an auto-obsessed crowd – new owners unscrew the rubber box with an enclosed allen wrench as though taking off a (mini) tire before a race.

The watch was developed by the Nismo Lab (which is a part of the motorsport and performance division of Nissan) with race-car drivers in mind. Currently, the Lab monitors Nismo drivers’ biometrics and telematics during races, but with the watch, the information could get back to the drivers faster, allowing them to make smarter decisions on the racetrack. It could also connect to members of the driver’s racing team, keeping them updated on the performance of the vehicle and driver.

In the future, Nissan also hopes to add more features such as an ECG (electrocardiogram) monitor to measure heartbeat and detect fatigue, an EEG (electroencephalogram) to monitor emotions and concentration, and a skin temperature gauge that could offer information on a driver's hydration level and body temperature. This is obviously helpful for a race-car driver, as an athlete that needs to keep track of this performance information, but also could be helpful to anyone who drives long distances or in hazardous conditions.

The Nissan Nismo has the most specific audience of any major smart watch yet released. The watch is in development mode and will only be available with a select number of Nissan vehicles (mostly sport-oriented). No word yet on pricing. Currently, this watch has a place more on the racetrack than the interstate, but it does imply further uses for a smart watch aside from being a second screen to a smart phone.

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