Qualcomm gets into the smart watch game with the Mirasol-powered Toq

Qualcomm trolled Samsung and surprised the Internet this afternoon by revealing a smart watch that the chipmaker has been working on for some time. Dubbed Toq, it pairs with a smartphone running Android 4.0.3 or above, and features a touchscreen with Mirasol technology.

If you’re unfamiliar with Mirasol, let’s dive a little bit deeper. Mirasol is a display technology that uses incorporates reflected light and interferometric modulation. According to the company’s website, “Light travels in waves, and each color of the spectrum has its own unique wavelength. Our displays create an interference of those wavelengths, so that the color the pixel needs to be is the only hue visible to the human eye.” This allows the screen to use much less energy than a traditional LCD display, as it doesn’t require a backlight to be seen in environments with ample light.

Comparable to the sharpness of an e-paper display, Mirasol has a much faster response time than traditional LCDs, is thinner, cheaper and lighter to manufacture, and pairs well with small, low-resolution devices like smart watches. Mirasol has yet to really take off because its touch response is not as smooth as an LCD, nor does it have the capabilities to reach high resolutions just yet.

Toq is expected to reach the market by the end of the year, and will allow users to receive several notifications at once, stacked, much like the Pebble, and dismiss them with a finger. Out of the box, several watch faces will be available, and Qualcomm plans to open up the software to developers for added functionality.

As it stands, users can respond with canned messages to senders, which are customizable through an Android app, as well as initiate calls or begin listening to music wirelessly on the phone. The prototype, which Engadget had a chance to use last week, offers stock and weather updates as well.

Toq will come with a box that doubles as a wireless charging station — just place the device on it to begin trickle charging — and a pair of wireless stereo headphones that are capable of the same.

Toq will begin shipping later this year for an undisclosed price. It’s unclear whether Qualcomm will market this as a finished product or make it available in select markets as more of an experiment.