How not to make wearables: The hideous Cybertool is a cautionary tale

Just when you thought wearable tech was finally becoming attractive and useful, Acer and Victorinox came along with the Cybertool, a watch that shatters that illusion so completely, it’s like we’ve made no advancements whatsoever in the past few years. Bafflingly unattractive, the Cybertool is evidence even watch makers haven’t got the hang of this smartwatch thing.

It’s not actually a wearable in itself: The Cbertool is an accessory to Victorinox’s range of damn-fine-looking Inox products — hard-wearing Swiss watches that are apparently the brand’s best-selling timepieces. Surely then, they deserve an equally damn-fine-looking smart accessory? Victorinox spent four years and went through hundreds of prototypes before signing off on the Cybertool. It’s … very sensible, but not the product we would have expected after so much diligence.

It’s not the fact the Cybertool doesn’t do much that shocks, it’s how ugly it is.

The Cybertool is a clip-on piece of plastic that that adds a massive bezel to your lovely Inox watch, leaving the face exposed, while adding in a selection of basic smart features after connecting to your phone via Bluetooth. The usual notifications are displayed on an small LED screen, along with a step counter, stopwatch, and a timer. There’s a vibration alert, and the Cybertool even shows the time on its digital display, just in case you need to double check.

The case is water- and dust-resistant, and it has a battery that needs charging each week, despite the relative lack of actual smart features or a big color touchscreen. There are buttons to press, which scroll through the options on the screen, and an accompanying app. Victorinox said people didn’t always need smart features or connectivity, hence the reason for making it removable.

It’s not the fact the Cybertool doesn’t do much that shocks, it’s how ugly it is. It’s a gigantic wart that Victorinox expects people to put on their pleasingly attractive watches, and we’d question whether anyone at all will want to do so. Certainly anyone who wants to wear a shirt will think twice, because the Cybertool stands so proud of your wrist, it’ll be impossible to get past the cuff.

When Acer said it had been working on a new product with Victorinox, it was exciting news. The result was kept a complete secret from everyone, right up until the big reveal — and it’s not difficult to see why. To say it was a letdown is an understatement.

So who’s to blame for this affront to wrists everywhere? Acer told Digital Trends the Cybertool was, “designed by the research and development center at Acer,” and that it, “offers the best of both worlds.” Victorinox has yet to respond to our questions on design and the response to the Cybertool by its customers.

Yes, wearables are hard to get right, but it shouldn’t be this easy to get them so wrong. The Cybertool is a $100 accessory that turns something stylish into something repulsive, and is the absolute last thing we expected from a company with such an established pedigree in strong design. Fossil and TAG Heuer have nailed it, but Victorinox’s Cybertool proves that just because a few watch makers seem to be cracking the wearable conundrum, not everyone’s getting it right.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


Rekindled yet again, Nokia’s next-gen phones offer more than just nostalgia

HMD Global, a startup that designs and builds Nokia Android smartphones, wants to put the Nokia brand name back “where it belongs.” It helps that it’s made up of ex-Nokia employees. We go behind the scenes to see how HMD formed.
Smart Home

The best smart locks turn your phone into a key

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.
Product Review

Apple brought ECG tracking to consumers. Withings is making it affordable

The Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $400, and the highlight function is the electrocardiogram, which has the potential to save lives. Withings’ new Move ECG has the same capability but at a fraction of the cost.

You'll soon be able to pay for goods with the Motiv smart ring

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Product Review

Mobvoi beefs up the battery on its affordable Ticwatch E2 and S2 Wear OS watches

Mobvoi is known to offer excellent, low-priced Wear OS smartwatches. At CES 2019, the company unveiled new entries into its Express and Sport range -- the Ticwatch E2 and Ticwatch S2.

Think this smartwatch doesn’t have a screen? Think again

This looks like a regular chronograph watch, but it holds a secret: It's really a smartwatch and even has a hidden screen, which is revealed only when you need it. We took a closer look at CES 2019.
Product Review

Garmin’s 4G LTE VivoActive 3 keeps you safe when you’re out on the trails

Garmin takes its already great VivoActive 3 Music fitness smartwatch and adds a 4G LTE connection, courtesy of Verizon. The watch now has streaming music, independent GPS, and best of all, SMS support and various safety features. We’ve…

Before buying a Fitbit or Apple Watch, check out these fitness trackers under $50

Fitbit and Apple Watch are top of the line when it comes to fitness trackers but if you want to save, we have alternatives. If 2019 is the year you keep track of your health and budget your expenses, then take a look at these fitness…
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Walmart slashes prices on the Fitbit Versa smartwatch and Charge 3

We are officially halfway through January, and for a lot of us, that means the struggle to stick to our New Year's resolutions is in full force. Walmart is offering some great discounts on Fitbits to help you stay on track.

How to switch TicHealth to Google Fit on the Mobvoi TicWatch C2 and TicWatch Pro

The Mobvoi TicWatch C2 and TicWatch Pro are both much-loved and feature-packed watches, and they offer excellent fitness tracking. Recently, Mobvoi has switched out Google Fit for TicHealth, but you can switch them back. Here's how.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019: Complete Coverage

There's no bigger show for mobile tech geeks than Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain: where flagship phones are born and intriguing new wearables shine. And this year, where foldable phones and 5G are likely to dominate the news. For…