Sony’s e-paper smartwatch prototype hiding in plain sight
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On Wednesday, word broke that Sony was engaged in a smartwatch that gives up on adopting the typical LCD screen and instead uses a wrap-around e-paper display. Yet this was not a extremely serious secret project like what you’d look forward to from Apple: The Wall Street Journal stated that Sony’s Fashion Entertainments group did little to keep its smartwatch prototype under wraps.

According to the Journal, the Fashion Entertainments team displayed the watch–which it names the FES Watch–in a campaign on the Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake that launched in September. However, because Sony’s name wasn’t on the campaign, it was able to fly under the radar and just seem to be another crowdfunding campaign.

The story behind the story: Fashion Entertainments act as part of a larger group within Sony, called the New Business Creation Department, whose only purpose is “to draw on internal and external insight to provide a catalyst for innovation and to provide the opportunity for new ideas to transition into successful new businesses.” Sony has dropped some of its cool and its popularity as an innovator over the past few years, and these efforts seem to be an plan to reclaim some of the company’s dulled luster.

Not ready yet…

The FES Watch wouldn’t be the first e-paper smartwatch, but in a market currently dominated by comparatively bulky–albeit more feature-packed–LCD-based devices, the FES Watch prototype looks to be a brave step from a different view…assuming the company is brave enough to actually make it launch for a wider audience, that is.

Even though contributors to the crowdfunding campaign can expect to get their own FES Watch in May, according to the Journal, a spokesperson of Sony expressed Thursday that the company “decline[d] to comment on specifics such as the possible commercialization of this project, or any targeted product launch date.”

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