Moto 360

During today’s Moto 360 Hangout-on-Air, the subject of charging came up. With no visible USB connection on the 360 body, many smartwatch fans — and potential new smartwatch fans — were wondering just how we will charge the thing.

Turns out it's a secret for now.

We can take that as some manner of kinetic charging, or wireless, or something we haven't seen before. Whatever it is, we hope it doesn't require a giant dock of some sort. We'll know more soon, we imagine.


Reader comments

Moto 360 to feature 'secret' charging method


They don't tell us but there is a needle that unobtrusively sticks in your skin and sucks the blood out to use it as energy. Lol

Sorry, but kinetic won't produce anything close to the power needed to run one of these.
"Secret" is marketing speak for "We're still figuring that out".

They're still figuring out how to charge watches that they're using in the video? So I guess they're physically replacing the battery as it dies but we will have to charge it? That makes exactly zero sense.

Y'know what does make sense? That they have several options and haven't decided which one to go with. i.e. "We're still figuring it out."
Also, just because you see a device functioning in a marketing video doesn't mean it was actually functioning during the filming. It's a pretty easy CGI trick to add screen behavior to the video. Whether that was the case here, I don't know, but simply assuming that it was actually working in the video is just plain stupid.

My brother had a Kinetic Seiko watch. worked pretty well. But you don't think that Kinetic can power enough for a screen and functions like that?

You would have to be resting your hand on a paint mixer in order to charge this thing with kinetic energy.

The best part was being able to see the display at that viewing angle. Phil must be hopping up and down that it isn't Mirasol so he doesn't have to rant about misrepresented color on the actual unit

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It's impractical and just serves to needlessly add weight to the device. It only worked with non-smartwatches because they didn't have to deal with radios and a light-emitting digital display.

it would, but lets just think about how many winds of that little stem you'd need to generate some real juice :D

What's the possibilities of Motorola having invented real wireless current?

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There are multiple options, but my favorite would be to see a system like the EcoDrive on Citizen watches: converting natural or artificial light. The battery itself wouldn't need to be large since the charge would be maintained (and replenished) anywhere there's a sufficient light source.

Citizen is not the only watch manufacturer to do G-Shock Riseman has solar charging, as well. Calculators have been doing it for 30 years.

That being said, it would be a lot harder to do it on a watch like this, where the entire face is a display. Putting in some type of solar panels would mean they'd have to exist on the band or around the outside of the face. That would be tough.

Also, it works for standard watches because they use very little energy to maintain operation. A smartwatch uses power in probably a power of if anything, solar charging would just enhance the battery life, not be the sole generator of it.

Honestly, I'd be happy if it indeed is Solar powered however I believe it is a litle impractical.
Reasons being:
- To power a 2" color display for at least 2 - 3 days you will require a lot of energy and a Solar cell will not be able to generate that much
- If they indeed go with this option then, the solar cell needs to be BIG and also on the watch surface (which does not seem to be the case)

But if they did manage to overcome all of these obstacles, It really will be a amazing feat
As it is, I am seriously considering the Moto 360 as my 1st Smartwatch. So I'm being hopeful

I can pretty much guarantee there's no way it's kinetic ALONE. That can't produce enough power to counter the drain this thing is going to have. But kinetic as a way of stretching that battery further, to get us past the limits a full-color screen would have? I wouldn't be at all surprised.

I'm sure it's some sort of charging plate for the main charge, though. But hopefully one that's convenient to make portable.

Kinetic would only add a tiny amount of power to what this would need. Better to leave it out of the watch altogether and save on space.

Actually, if Motorola was using Qualcomm's Mirasol display, they might have been able to pull it off with just ambient illumination and a tiny front-lit LED for night use. It doesn't look like that's the case here, though. Smartwatches really need some sort of bi-stable transflective display to go all week without a charge. Until then, they'll be hamstrung by battery limitations.

If they were using the Mirasol display this wouldn't be half as interesting. We've seen the Toq and read the reviews: the screen is bland, washed-out, and unexciting. As a concept, I love it. In use it just doesn't provide the experience.

I mean bland and washed-out like every review of the Toq I read clearly stated the screen was. And the Toq's PPI is 222dpi. Just because someone HAS made a Mirasol display at 577PPI doesn't mean that the one in smartwatches will have that. All the competing technologies can achieve the same, but are just as unlikely to end up in this watch.

Your video shows clarity, not bright, vivid colors. Yes, it's very, very visible, but does it have attractive imagery? No, not remotely. Different focuses here.

We don't KNOW what tech is being used in the Moto 360 yet. It might, indeed, have visibility issues like you said (and like the Gear, which is on the long list of reasons it doesn't interest me), or it might not. Motorola's claiming it will be visible in all conditions. At this point I believe them.

If the Toq only had 222 PPI, then that only means it was using Qualcomm's Gen1 display. Gen2 has a much wider color gamut and the vastly increased resolution like I mentioned before. This is possible because the individual sub-pixels can now vary linearly in discrete steps instead of being a completely binary operation like in the Gen1 model. Furthermore, the more front-lighting is used on the display, the more vivid the color becomes. I wouldn't be surprised if a proper front-light made the Mirasol display even more attractive than OLED. at least with this technology, you don't have to worry about the display "smearing" when transitioning from the pixels being completely off to on.

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So you're telling me Qualcomm, on one of, if not THE first shipping Mirasol display device, decided to go with their last-gen, low-end screen instead of their whip-smart newer generation that you actually think, I believe EXTREMELY naively, would look BETTER than OLED? That seems very, very unlikely.

You're confusing proof of concept technology like their 577PPI 1440p 5.1" display with realistic technology that can go in a watch, use low power to manage that many pixels, and be affordable, and you're also swallowing marketing hype instead of realism. Mirasol is a long way off from even matching OLED's color range much less looking more attractive. I've read all the reviews of the display you're describing, and none remotely suggests it comes CLOSE to OLED.

Besides, Qualcomm's actively admitted it still has several YEARS of development to go on it, which means there was no chance of Motorola using it. Yes, it'll happen, but no, it will not look more attractive than OLED with both at their best. Will it look more readable in sunlight? Pretty much guaranteed. Which is why it will still have its market.

And we STILL don't know what display tech the 360 is using anyway. So all this speculating is rather pointless. It's not Mirasol, unless they're lying to us about it looking as pretty as it does or refreshing as quickly as it does, but outside of that we just don't know.

What about heat induction from the arm? Isn't the place where watches sit typically pretty warm? Is that even possible?

Thermoelectric generation is extremely inefficient. Your arm would need to be scalding hot in order to create any meaningful temperature differential and, therefore, current.

You're talking about a Peltier generator, it generates electricity from thermal difference, something with a warm side and a cool side. The greater the difference, the greater the output. So yes, it's possible, but I think the output would be too low to be useful.

Fun fact: Electrical generation using a P-N junction of dissimilar metals is known as the Seebeck Effect, the opposite of the Peltier Effect.

Kinetic and Solar to topup sounds possible, but have to assume wireless charging will be the main strategy - just hope they go QI so no one needs another dock - my bag does not need another cable or dock in it.

Do more research on kinetic and solar charging, then come back and repeat that sentence...

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My biggest gripe with the Pebble was it was yet one more thing to worry about keeping charged, so I stopped using it.

If they can stretch out time between charges to something reasonable (for me that would be a week or more) then I'd be very interested in getting one.

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Do you folks live in cloud cuckoo land? Neither of those options will produce anything anywhere close to what is needed to power a watch like this. They work for chronometers because chronometers take a tiny amount of power.
"Secret" is just marketing speak for "we're still figuring that out".

It's available this summer and they are showing prototypes. It takes a little time to tool a manufacturing line, and the design has to be complete before you can do so. I think they have it figured out.

Not dreams. Delusions. Kinetic charging and light are so far from being realistic options, you may as well suggest that they'd be charged by the movement of your pulse against your skin. Have you ever used one of those kinetic chargers you can find at outdoor stores like REI? Try it some time, see how much power they produce, then come back and tell me how realistic you think kinetic recharging is.

"Secret" means just that; they don't want to say anything about it.
Btw, what is your estimation of the TPP for a device of this type? What percentage of the time will it be in any given power state? How much power is it possible to generate via kinetic or solar sources within the presumed confines of a 46mm diameter watch face?
I honestly don't know the answer. I could probably calculate it all out, but unless you work with/know a mobile device designer, trying to find info on TPP for a regular cell phone (let alone a "smart device") is like pulling teeth.
You'd be surprised at what's possible with modern tech and super-low-power components.

It won't have cellular as a drain. Nor wifi. It will have bluetooth, always on or close to it. It will also, almost certainly, be an always on screen. Why? Because a watch as slick looking as this will look ridiculous with a blank black face. The screen is the big battery eater. A Galaxy Gear goes through a 315 mah battery in a day, maybe two if you're conservative (standby time is listed at 150 hours, so six days of doing nothing at all and the battery is dead).

A fancy digital watch (such as my Suunto T6) will run for a year or more easily on a single CR 2032 (225mah). The types of watches that use light or kinetic motion to power them use much, much less power than the Suunto. If my Suunto can't run off of light or kinetic motion (and it can't, triathletes and runners have been bugging Suunto about it for years), there's no way in holy heck that something with over 300 times the daily power drain is going to run on it.

Google glass is a great example of what's possible with modern tech. But battery technology is one of the single most limiting factors, and is arguably the tech that is moving the slowest because it is pretty well maxed out for existing methods.

I think there is a HUGE mental disconnect here for folks on the difference in power draw between the watches that use light or kinetic charging and a smartwatch.

I know there is a startup trying to make ultrasonic charging a reality. I hope this is it. basically you plug in the charger and it would emit ultrasonic sound to charge your device.

Ah yes, I forgot about that! Well here is hoping that Google licenses this back to Moto because it seems too perfect of a match with an active display on a watch. Product design must have been going on a long time before the lenovo deal so I'm still keeping this on the table

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Brendilon, you have made some great points in some of these posts and I have changed my mind. Solar charging alone has no chance of powering a Device with this type of power requirement. Must be using some form of wireless but am hopefully optimistic that it uses solar to extend the battery life throughout the day.

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And I'd love to see it happen. I hope I'm wrong and we're a a point where it might be feasible, but the small solar and kinetic charging systems I've seen tell me we still have a ways to go. Someday though...

Agreed. I don't think people realize just how little energy is needed for a traditional watch.

The rumor is that Motorola will build charge stations all over the U.S.

All you have to do is tell the cashier to put $20 bucks and it will be charge accordingly.

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They've been hoarding dilithium crystals for years and plan to use them to regulate the flow so your watch doesn't explode(just beware of coolant leaks)

It will be solar with, perhaps, a kinetic system to augment it.

With the newer power levels on the sub components and the power output that the new Moto/Lenovo patents suggest is possible- they have a fighting chance. They will really need an 'advanced' display technology to make it work but that is something that they have line of sight to. It is hard to do that math not knowing everything that will be in the unit but if you make some rough run ups it can work.

However, all of these things cost money so don't expect a budget watch on offer!

I bet good money that the charging element is in that fake crown on the watch. There's no real use for it except to make it look like a normal watch. Look at the picture, there are two shades of metal on the crown itself, allowing for polarity. My guess is that the charger is magnetic and attaches to the crown.

That's a pretty reasonable guess, though I ABHOR non-standard ports. If Micro USB isn't an option, then there needs to be a QI charging option. A custom charging method is fine if there is also a standard option.

i at first thought it was going to be something special. but then i watched that part of the video again to show my brother. she was excited about it and called it part of the 'secret sauce'. and then the designer guy didnt think it was that big of a deal. that said... i gotta think that she has no clue that wireless charging is expected in just about every device from here on out. she probably thought it was something new and innovative. so i tend to think that it is simply going to be wirelessly charged. but holding high hopes for something cooler.

Kinetic charging is absolutely out, as others have stated it just can't produce enough energy to keep the battery from discharging, let alone actually charging the battery. Also solar power really wouldn't work either, on Citizen watch's and others that use this method part of the face under the glass is a solar cell, there's no where on the Moto 360 to put the solar cell. It'd be cool, but I think extremely improbably.

What would be cool is if that purple/blue back used some kind of thermoelectric generator in it. Using your own body heat to power the watch. That would be amazingly cool, however in reality I'd have to guess it's probably using some kind of wireless charging pad that you can lay your watch on at night when you go to bed and simply pick it up in the morning.

Though I'm very eager to see what they have come up with very excited at the thought it may be something we've not seen before!

Solar is laughable. It's hard enough to charge a phone off of a 7 Watt panel, or batteries or anything really. It gets harder from behind glass like a car windshield or office window. If you're lucky, your already poor efficiency is only cut in half. The other issue is that the smaller the panel, the lower the efficiency. There are 0.5V / 250mA / 0.13W panels out there that are 5/16 (L) x 2 5/16 (H).... @13% efficiency. A solar panel would have to be physically larger than the watch. It's not solar, and if it was, you wouldn't want it. Especially if you lived in Seattle.

Relying on solar for juice is a frustrating thing if sunlight is less than stellar, and it often is.

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