To find the future of the smartphone, a startup is reaching 500 years into the past when the most advanced gadget told you only the time.
Monohm, based in Berkeley, Calif., plans next week to officially introduce a device dubbed Runcible. Named after a nonsense word by an English poet, Runcible was created by Apple and Sony alumni Aubrey Anderson, George Arriola and Jason Proctor.
Its standout feature is its shape. Runcible is circular, with a convex wooden back designed to nestle in your palm. It's got a screen on the front, a camera on the back and a heft that makes it feel substantial. By eschewing a conventional rectangular, slab-like design and app-centric software, the startup is hoping to draw attention as a funky alternative for people who don't live on their smartphones.
Despite such differences, Runcible can still do most things a standard smartphone can, including making calls, surfing the Web, sending texts and taking photos. It doesn't, however, run apps or have a home screen -- it's point of stasis is, as you'd expect, a watch face. After all, Runcible is designed to be a pocket watch for the iPhone age.
"The form factor has a long history -- magic stones in your hand, compasses, women's compacts," said Anderson, Monohm's CEO. Runcible is designed to return smartphones to the "social niceties of pocket watches."