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Linux smartwatch offers luxury stylings and a novel interface

Aug 5, 2015 — by Eric Brown 4,296 views

Olio has opened pre-orders for a luxury round-faced Linux smartwatch that shows Bluetooth notifications from mobile devices and offers 50M water resistance.

Aside from the Tizen-based Samsung Gear and Blocks watches, we haven’t seen too many Linux smartwatches that don’t run Android Wear or other Android variants. Exceptions include the LG Watch Urbane and Leikr sportswatch. Now, a San Francisco startup called Olio Devices Inc. has opened pre-orders on a Linux-powered luxury watch called the “Olio Model One.”

Olio Model One
(click images to enlarge)

The Olio, which was first unveiled back in March, is available in plain steel, black steel, gold starting at $595, $745, and $1,195, respectively. They are currently being discounted to $345, $495, and $945.

The gold version is available in a standard, 24-karat “clad” mix or an 18-karat rose gold clad. The price goes up when you add various leather band or metal bracelet options. Shipments are due in the fall.

Another view of the Olio Model One
(click image to enlarge)

The Olio Model One’s crystal and solid-steel case watch case is said to be impact and scratch resistant. The watch is 47mm wide and 12mm deep, and weighs 161 grams with the standard black link bracelet. The device is equipped with a 700-nits display with ambient light sensor. Water resistance is provided down to 50 meters, and the battery lasts “days,” says Olio.

Olio is rated for 50m water resistance
(click images to enlarge)

According to a report from Barron’s, which interviews CEO and former Apple iPhone project member Steve Jacobs, the watch runs on a homegrown, Linux-based OS. The company has received $14 million in VC funding from NEA and others, says the story.


Despite the Linux underpinnings, the Olio Model One is no open source hacker watch. In fact, the website has relatively few technical details about the innards of the stylish, round-faced watch, although it has plenty to say about the styling and interface. The watch provides Bluetooth 4.0 and BLE to communicate with Android and iOS devices, and has a microphone so you can remotely voice control Google Now or Siri via the watch.

Typical Olio screens: time, alarm, earlier, later
(click images to enlarge)

The Olio’s novel, cloud-based interface splits functions into two temporal streams: an Earlier Stream that offers updates on what you have missed and a Later Stream that shows what’s coming up. The interface also offers a cloud-based assistant app, which was the highlight of a positive review in the New York Times. The assistant app can do things like let you swipe in a certain direction to send a text to a caller saying you can’t take the call, and will call back. It will later remind you to do so. It also tracks user behavior to customized its services, says the story.

You get the usual ability to screen calls from your mobile phone, control its music, and receive updates on incoming emails, texts, and social messaging inputs. Other notifications include traffic, weather, news sports, business, and finance.

The Olio also provides turn-by-turn navigation, although it’s unclear if this is a native control with onboard GPS, or a translation of iPhone and Google Maps nav feeds. In addition, the Olio is said provide controls of connected lights, thermostats, locks, and other home automation gear. There were no further details except that the connected devices must support Bluetooth. Fitness apps are said to be planned for an upcoming model.

Olio Model One demo by Olio founder Steve Jacobs

Further information

The Olio Model One is available in plain steel, black steel, gold starting at $345, $495, and $945, respectively, with prices eventually rising to $595, $745, and $1,195. Shipments are due in the fall. More information may be found at the Olio website.

(advertise here)

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One response to “Linux smartwatch offers luxury stylings and a novel interface”

  1. Steve St.Onge says:

    How do i contact Olio? Their website has no way of contacting them. This I don’t understand if they want to sell their product. Also where would I purchase one at their now discounted prepurchase price?

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