the Digital Age:
the ever-changing designs of
the FES Watch
The color and design of the "FES Watch" can be adjusted according to your clothes and places, by using electronic paper as a material. The FES Watch brings added appeal when compared to other smart watches, creating new value through its "Digitization of Fashion."
"Fashion Show gave us the inspiration"
"The idea for the FES Watch came to me when I visited the Tokyo Game Show in 2012. Games, such as solitaire and blackjack, that were analogue a few decades ago have now been completely digitized and enjoyed by many enthusiasts. Visiting the show made me realize how passionate people can be, but also made me wonder if there were any other fields that remained to be digitized", said Yuki Sugiue of Sony, who was the key figure in the FES Watch development.
He sees the potential of the "Digitization" in everything around him.
Though an answer did not come immediately, he saw great potential in the "digitisation of fashion" when he saw how excited young women felt about the "Tokyo Girls Collection" (NB: Japan's largest domestic fashion event. Viewers can purchase the clothes and accessories worn by the models that participate in the fashion shows and live performances.) Something new might be created if fashion and the digital were combined. In addition to his regular work, Mr. Sugiue created prototype of "fashion items using electronic paper". Two years later, Sony's new enterprise innovation "Seed Acceleration Program" began, and the idea of using electronic paper to develop fashion items rushed ahead at full speed. One of the first products worked on was the FES Watch.
The company's name was not revealed, which generated unexpected feedbacks
Despite the existence of the "Seed Acceleration Program", the development of the FES Watch was actually propelled by the crowd funding. Though no mention was made of the company name in the beginning to confirm that the product was really sought by users, the uniqueness of the product idea elicited a significant response.
The product idea gave rise to unexpectedly passionate sentiments and strong vocal support, which was on a different level from the product evaluations Sony had received from its users. There were supporters who wanted the product as well as many who connected with the concept of ‘the digitisation of fashion'.
The FES in the product name stands for Fashion Entertainment(S), with the plural 'S' expressing their desire to collaborate with users and creators to design a new lifestyle. Many supporters feel the sense of joy in multiple ways, with the circle of enthusiasts expanding exponentially on the internet. Lending an ear to such voices of support has given the product development process an extra layer of strength, which linked to an increase in the final touch of the FES Watch.
Removing extra features to concentrate on fashionableness
The FES Watch is different from smart watches, clearly distinguished with a unique appeal found in its uncompromising attitude toward "fashion items."
For example, the FES Watch does not have a GPS feature. Looking at the watch, some may think that it would be better to have such a function; however, from the very start there was no intention of including such a feature.
In order to shape the watch's value as a fashion item, technology such as GPS came second to technology that could express one's individuality in ways that analogue devices could not. This meant that GPS was non-essential. New ideas that are free from conventional concepts were born by probing into the concept at the heart of the product. As a result, the attractiveness of the FES Watch developed a distinct incisiveness.
"The advantages of digitizing fashion are in its ability to change the product according to your preferences after the product release. With analogue devices, you have one choice, the one you purchased, whereas with a digital device you can create and recreate the item in a heartbeat", said Mr. Sugiue. "For example, it is difficult to recreate the watch to suit your preference if the watch is analogue. However, digital watches make it easier to recreate a watch that matches your personality. The FES Watch is the first product that realizes the vision of Fashion Entertainments. So far, we have yet to be able to achieve that vision. We would like to continue making such things a possibility."
On to the next item! The creative challenge continues
Looking ahead, Mr Sugiue is thinking about expanding his idea beyond wristwatches in order to work on various fashion items. As well as utilizing his ideas in neckties and shoes, he is considering increasing the number of colors and designs available. He also displays a strong interest in pursuing the quality of electronic paper and its ability to go beyond simply simulating expression.
Despite its new challenges, the FES Watch development team has gathered employees who have joined Sony to work on creating something new. Putting the missions and aims of the team into words created terms such as "Innovation and Challenge". When asked, Mr Sugiue smiled to reply that these also happened to be part of Sony's mission statement.
"Everyone on the team joined Sony with a strong sense of mission, but they faced a period where their ideas could not immediately be materialized. Watching domestic and foreign startups turn ideas that were similar to ours into real-life products occasionally left us bitter", said Mr. Sugiue. "However, being a part of Sony makes us realize the potential we have. Sony is the company that already had our team's mission for "Innovation and Challenge". We are grateful for our circumstance that allows us to do the things we desire, and for the ability it grants us to create products that change people's lifestyles, a challenging area that we would like to continue exploring."
The FES Watch lets you expresses your uniqueness. Your Stories is currently searching for photos that express your experiences with Sony. For those with FES Watches, we ask you to post photos to Instagram and Twitter of what you're wearing in a way that expresses how you feel and your personality, using the hashtag #feswatch.
For those who don't have a FES Watch, please post the colors and designs you would like to see, as well as any ideas relating to the "Digitisation of Fashion". We look forward to seeing your comments and photos!