Tag Archives: Neptune

Neptune looks reverse the roles of the smartwatch and smartphone

Montreal-based startup looks to usher in a Dick Tracy-like future. 

Ever since you can probably remember, the smartphone has been the focal interest of your day. From waking up to a set alarm to checking your email to texting friends, they are seemingly attached to our hands at all times. In recent months, we’ve also seen a number of smartwatches enter the market; however, each of them have essentially been an add-on to your phone. But what if they were to swap roles? That’s the idea behind Neptune Duo, a two-device package featuring the “world’s smartest wearable,” Neptune Hub, and a pocket-sized companion device, the Pocket screen.


The wrist-worn gadget runs on Android Lollipop, while packing the capabilities (and power) of an ordinary smartphone. This includes a quad-core processor, 4G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and NFC. Instead of using a handheld device, the Hub comes paired with a smartphone-like 5-inch display of its own. The aptly named Pocket syncs with the watch and can remotely run apps through its capacitive touchscreen. Not to mention, it also promises to recognize scribbled writing from a finger to form letters and send a message. The screen is equipped with 8mp camera on the back and a 2mp camera on the front with LED flash, as well as a built-in microphone and speaker.

“Much like a mouse, a keyboard, or a computer monitor, the Pocket screen is simply an interface for the Hub. It’s not very smart, it doesn’t need to be,” the company explains.

Whether a user is with or without their Pocket, they will always be able to stay connected with the Hub. In fact, the screens are interchangeable as well, which means you’ll never have to worry about leaving your phone behind again. The wearable allows users to place calls, send and receive messages, glance at notifications, track fitness and much more right from their wrist.

With a combined battery capacity of 3,800 mAh, Neptune Duo can last a few days of normal usage on a single charge. Furthermore, the Pocket can serve as a portable battery juice pack for the Hub, recharging it whenever it needs power.


“The current wearables market is saturated with Bluetooth-paired smartwatches and fitness bands,” said Simon Tian, CEO and Founder of Neptune. “The issue is that they all depend on the presence of a nearby smartphone in order to have full function. This is mainly because the wearable usually acts as a ‘dummy’ device that tethers to your smartphone, the ‘master’ device. But what if the roles were reversed? What if smartphones were completely rethought to simply become dummy pocket-sized displays, void of any computing or connectivity, that paired with a smart wearable on your wrist instead? That’s what Neptune Duo is.”

With most smartwatches we’ve seen so far rely on your smartphone to supply the main computing power, the Neptune Hub acts as the main supply and the screen merely a companion device, meaning of all your personal information will stay securely on the wrist. With all apps and files stored on the Hub, a misplaced or stolen Pocket screen won’t mean lost data anymore.

Intrigued? Head over to the company’s official page here. The Montreal-based startup is currently taking early reservations in various combinations of pay now/pay later. For instance, it’ll cost $798 if paid upon shipment later this year, or $498 if paid for now.

Digitizing sculptures with MakerBot

In August, MakerBot began accepting pre-orders for its new Digitizer 3D scanner which is expected to ship in October. The Digitizer is currently priced at $1,400, plus an optional $150 for MakerCare, a comprehensive service and support program.

As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, MakerBot’s Digitizer allows users to quickly “transform” (scan) objects and items into 3D models that can be easily modified, shared and printed on 3D printers like the company’s Atmel-powered MakerBot Replicator 2.

Although Digitizer has yet to hit the streets, the MakerBot crew has already fashioned a number of new creations using the device, including figures based on famous sculptures, such as those found along the the Pont Neuf in Paris on a series of historic lampposts designed by Victor Baltard in 1854.

“Robert Steiner, our Chief Product Officer here at MakerBot, wanted to incorporate elements of these lampposts into a design for some furniture of his own. He sent pictures (above) off to a sculptor in the Philippines. A few months later these sculpts (below, left) arrived in the mail, but they were not great objects for casting into molds, as Robert had planned. He put them in a box and nearly forgot about them until we launched the Digitizer. Sensing an opportunity, he brought them into the office and the dolphin scanned beautifully,” MakerBot’s Bre Pettis wrote in a recent blog post.

“Plaster, due to its pale and textured surface, is a great material for scanning. The Digitizer software had no problem filling in the occlusion behind the lips. Plaster originals at left, Digitized and Replicated versions at right. Robert asked the sculptor to give Neptune an open mouth, in hopes of turning it into a fountain spout. The Neptune face didn’t scan well laying flat, so I attached some clay to the base to help it stand up straight. This gave his beard a trim, but now the printed version has a flat base to stand on.”

Meanwhile, MakerBot’s Kate Hannum noted that Thingiverse super user Dutch Mogul (aka Arian Croft) artfully remixed the company’s official MakerBot Gnome into a steampunk model dubbed Sir Occulum Tanberry.

“This little guy is ideal for gaming, as he retains his detail even at the 28mm gaming scale. You can easily print Sir Occulum Tanberry in halves or as one piece with supports. As is noted in the description, he looks especially at home next to the MakerBot Crystals,” said Hannum.

“3D scanning gives folks who aren’t expert 3D modelers an easy way to modify, improve, share, and 3D print. For people who are expert modelers like Arian, scanning provides a jumpstart to creating seriously awesome things. We can’t wait until Thingiverse is flush with exciting new remixes of scans from community members – beginners and experts alike!”

Indeed, the MakerBot Digitizer outputs standard 3D file formats, so Makers can improve, shape, mold, twist, animate and transform objects in a third-party 3D modeling program. There is no patching, stitching, or repairing required, so Makers are able to skip straight to the creative process. Adding one 3D model to another is easy, like putting a hat on top of a gnome. Plus, Makers can either scan a second object, or search for it on Thingiverse.com, scaling down and multiplying targeted objects to create charms or game pieces.

Additional information about MakerBot’s 3D printer lineup and Digitizer is available here.