There are certain sectors where the idea definitely appeals to us: the fitness sector being a key one. Rather than having to strap your smartphone to your arm at the gym, you can have access to your music and health information directly on your wrist.
If the wearable contains health sensors; it can also be used to collect more detailed information to help track your health. This has been the formula of wearables for the past few years, with obvious applications outside of a gym to help people get even more insight into their health.
Smartwatches also have huge opportunities in enterprise situations. As the watch is worn on the wrist, freeing the users hands, they are the perfect way to provide notifications and work orders to engineers and manual workers. Drivers could have updates sent to them about their schedules and deliveries without having to use a mobile or tablet device when driving. The watch could be an important tool in helping to manage workforces and keep users up to date.
MVouchers would allow offers to be sent to your watch based on where you are, and payments (such as integrating with systems like the Oyster cards) would make life easier without having to deal with purses and wallets.
We envisage smartwatches playing a key role in distinct user cases. Our design team have explored different avenues that focus on immediacy of where you are, where you need to be and what action you need to take (contact us if you’d be interested in seeing these).
When asked about the kind of challenge smartwatches could provide to responsive websites, Karl Loudon, Head of our partner group TRW, said that he’s not concerned about future breakpoints, but more about how the context fits into our lives. Realistically speaking, it’s unlikely that we’ll see websites coming up on smartwatches; driving the case for apps on mobile devices further. The context for the smartwatch is key to its success.
Another reason we currently aren’t all flashing these devices on our wrists is due to style – though we have all grown happy with having identical phones and tablets; watches and jewellery are arguably more unique to our identities. To what degree should we be defined by our technology?
We may not want to all wear carbon copies of the same watch design on our wrists, we want something more personal. It may be that fashion brands partner with technology providers to produce a range of stylish watches, or that designs are developed to support customisable skins and cases like smartphones have, but until this happens there are only a handful of options out there.
Other advocates in the room did fly the flag for discretion rather than something too flashy, suggesting a watch that looks completely ordinary until you want it to be smart. Whereas smartphones have developed into one universally similar style, smartwatches may need to develop with a much more equal weighting between form and function.
Our overall opinion on the smartwatch is that the manufacturers have far more challenges than they did for the smartphone (though arguably, manufacturers were trying for years to get smartphones into the market, it was only after Apple bought out the iPhone that the market changed).
The smartphone has evolved since 2007: it has become thinner with bigger and better screens, batteries and features. The watch cannot evolve in this way: it can get lighter, have better technology and better battery life but its development will be controlled by its screen size – if it gets bigger then it will become a phone strapped on the wrist.
As the screen size cannot change significantly, it is about being clever with the display and squeezing in contextual, valuable information. While notifications are important, too many are overwhelming and the fact that they are on your wrist makes them far more intrusive than on a phone, so what you are notified on needs to be thought out fully.
The watch could develop in other ways, such as including new sensors and ways to monitor the user and their health. These will add value that smartphones cannot provide, making smartwatches more unique in what they offer. If future smartphones are designed to pair with watches rather than just watches fitting with existing smartphones, then there is potential for sensors to be shared across the two devices rather than duplicating technology, which could lead to better communication and offered functionality between the two as well as the potential for smaller, lighter and cheaper devices.
We think voice assistants will be key to the success of the smartphone. Talking to the watch, especially in situations when driving, will remove potential user interface issues of a small screen. If / when the iWatch is announced, we expect Siri to be the leading factor.
We think that smartwatches have the potential be huge, and with the right user case, will be far more than just a gimmick. We are only at the early adopters stage at the moment but we think a game-changing smartwatch is on its way very shortly!
AppleWatch Stock update interface