What makes the perfect smartwatch?
There have been many false dawns in the past but we should look back on 2014 as the year that the smartwatch turned up for good. That said, with the most popular smartwatch, the Pebble, selling somewhere around 300,000 units, this branch of wearable tech hasn’t exactly gone mass market….yet.
At Wareable, we’ve been wondering what it’s going to take for these devices to reach that critical mass, so we called in the experts for their opinions. We put it to traditional watchmakers, fashion designers and CEOs of wearable tech companies both big and small. In their words, the perfect smartwatch should be…
…independent (of your mobile)
“Current smartwatches and many other wearable devices represent an amazing step forward in innovation, yet still they do not achieve a unique level of value in most cases and often duplicate functions and capabilities that are already available via smartphone. Among several factors, they will need to provide the user with valuable information when not tethered to a smartphone; they will need to be smarter and more capable of providing the right information at the right time; and they will need to have new means of charging and staying charged as nobody wants to carry another charging cord. Ultimately, they will also need more unique innovations to differentiate their functionality from other devices and become an essential part of everyday life.”
Steven Holmes, Intel VP, specialist in wearables, key player in creation of Nike+ FuelBand
…made from authentic materials
“Things like aluminium, leather and glass; I think they just feel good. They have a tactile sense to them. They have a heritage that is meaningful and real. There are stories about these things which are much more interesting than cheap plastic. Your Cartier is probably not made of plastic. If you’re going to use plastic, then go all the way and have fun with it. Go with neon green or something. Just don’t try to be elegant and sleek with it. You can’t. For my perfect smartwatch, I would not want it to be plastic. I just don’t like plastic stuff.”
Sonny Vu, CEO and president of Misfit Wearables, creator of the Shine
“I haven’t identified a very compelling use for the existing functions of a smartwatch. If it wants to sell, it has to look absolutely gorgeous. That’s why there’s this exceptional interest in the Moto 360. I think it’s solely because of the way they’ve designed it. Until we see a really unique and compelling feature, I think, for now, aesthetics is what counts.”
Edward Tiong, co-founder of Ring Theory, creator of the Sesame Ring
“It should be a watch I could fall in love with and wear all the time – even if it wasn’t working.”
“A wrist should be reserved for a nice watch. Thegreat thing is that you can have a real luxury. It’s an acceptable form of jewellery for a man anywhere in the world. Take that away and a man is really restricting himself in showing who he is and what he is.
“It’s like putting on handmade shoes or a Savile Row suit. It distinguishes a person. Watchmaking, at this level, over many year, is very specialised and steeped in tradition. It’s not only about the styling and aesthetics but it’s about the mechanics of a watch. Personally, I think trying to add an app would just water that down.”
Roger W Smith, master watchmaker, creator of luxury watches
“Let’s not try to squeeze all this information onto a small space. Stop thinking about always redoing things. The iPhone has really a beautiful user-interface. It’s useless to squeeze it in and do it worse.”
Cédric Hutchings, CEO of Withings, creator of the Pulse and Activité
“All smart wearable devices have to be, in some sense, invisible. You should not be burdened by carrying an extra thing around with you and it should be very natural to how you already act as a human being. It should be able to make a human better at something they already do; an augmented human being.”
Olivia Seow, co-founder of Ring Theory, creator of the Sesame Ring
…more fashionable and more feminine
“Mostly, the problem is that they’re just not very fashionable. They don’t make them desirable enough with their moulded plastic models. That’s what’s happening. They sit round in focus groups and ask people, especially women, if they’d wear them. They might say ‘yes’ but the reality is that most women won’t. Smartwatches are just not a feminine product. At the moment, they’re more of product for a gentleman that’s on the geeky side and that’s not into fashion and wants to go to the gym to wear this.”
“There is a difference between something that you can only wear when you go to the gym and something that becomes part of your daily wardrobe and becomes a statement about who you are. Because, if you think in terms of fashion, every piece of clothing you wear is a statement about who you are as a person. It reflects your identity.”
Francesca Rosella, creative director at CuteCircuit, the leading fashion designer of wearable tech clothing
…made with an analogue face
“I think the analogue face we’ve chosen is a very strong expectation. It’s still here for a reason. Having an analogue display, there are a lot of studies on it and it’s a very intriguing way to provide information. When you read time on an analogue face and hands, it does not use the same brain parts. It uses the intuitive parts. You do not have to quantify it. Your brain has already understood it and that’s what we wanted to leverage.”
…self-charging or no charging at all
“Certainly I would never want to charge it. I’ve never had to charge my watch before so that would definitely be a feature that’s a detriment; an anti-feature.”
“If possible, it should be self-charging without using a battery source; mechanical power or kinetic power; not something that takes up an extra 10 minutes at the end of the day – taking it off, plugging it into your computer, charging it up, checking notifications. It would be too much of a hassle.”
…8mm thick at the most
“I also would not want it to be really thick. Some people like thick watches. I like thin; nothing more than 10mm at most. Actually, that’s pretty thick; 8mm. That’s really hard though. Every millimetre you shave off is painful. It’s so hard.”
…not your smartphone on your wrist
“I think some of them are interesting and others are just like trying to duplicate your smartphone screen. I don’t think that model is successful. You need to have the ‘I have to go back home’ factor; if I leave it at home, I cannot survive today. I don’t think that the idea of going back for something with the same information I could get on my smartphone screen makes sense.”
…an open platform
“The way I see wearable tech – and the way we’re going to be delivering our wearable tech – is to make it open source. A lot of things at the moment are very closed off. They’re very big data driven to try and get all your vital stats so they can build on it as a company and gain all that data control. We believe, slightly differently, that it’s actually the people that are going to lead this trend of wearable technology to a degree, and they’re going to want to. So, we should be opening these devices up to them and letting people build on the platform.
“Otherwise, it’s only as smart as your team is. At the end of the day, we’ve got 10 people working full time and we can’t think of everything. Whereas if you have 1,000 people round the world building software, using the product; you’ll get a lot further.”
Simon Weatherall, founder of Glowfaster smart clothing
…more than just a smartphone companion
“I would love to be able to get rid of all my credit cards and just be able to swipe my watch. I would like it to be able to open my doors and control my temperature in my house because it knows how warm I am and the ambient temperature and it tells my Nest want to do. That’s already possible.”
…nothing to do with photography
“I think the pictures are a waste of time. It’s too clunky, and you can’t see what’s in the frame as easily on a watch.”
…lots of different watches
“There is such a variety of watches that it would be hard to call the perfect watch. I don’t think they’ll be made in only one way. It would be very hard to make the perfect watch that would appeal to everybody.”
…first and foremost a watch
“There will be smartwatches but there will be watches that become smart. You will see a lot more classical approaches to watch design, and then they will make those smart, but they won’t look like what you see as smartwatches now. I don’t think smartwatches in the future will look like anything what we see now.”
Gartner Says By 2017, 50 Percent of Internet of Things Solutions Will Originate in Startups That Are Less Than Three Years Old
Analysts Explore Major Business and Technology Trends at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014 in Orlando
Gartner’s Maverick Research Sparks New, Unconventional Insights
Makers and startups, not tech providers, consumer goods companies or enterprises, will drive acceptance, use and growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) through the creation of a multitude of niche applications, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner predicts that by 2017, 50 percent of IoT solutions (typically a product combined with a service) will originate in startups that are less than three years old.
Gartner defines “makers” as inventors, tinkerers and entrepreneurs who create and manufacture products using traditional tools and new digital design and rapid prototyping and manufacturing technologies. “Startups” are fledgling businesses that are often technology-focused and have the potential for high growth.
“Conventional wisdom is that the growth of the Internet of Things is driven by large enterprises. As is always the case, there is an element of truth in conventional wisdom and major consumer goods companies, utilities, manufacturers and other large enterprises are, indeed, developing IoT product offerings,” said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner. “However Gartner’s Maverick research finds that it is the makers and the startups who are the ones shaping the IoT. Individuals and small companies that span the globe are developing IoT solutions to real-world, often niche problems. They are taking advantage of low-cost electronics, traditional manufacturing and 3D printing tools, and open- and closed-source hardware and software to create IoT devices that improve processes and lives.”
Gartner analysts unveiled these findings at the sold out Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, which is taking place here through today.
Gartner’s Maverick research is designed to spark new, unconventional insights. Maverick research is unconstrained by Gartner’s typical broad consensus-formation process to deliver breakthrough, innovative and disruptive ideas from the company’s research incubator to help organizations get ahead of the mainstream and take advantage of trends and insights that could impact IT strategy and the wider organization.
“Managers often assume the IoT is about business-to-business and business-to-consumer opportunities, relying on technologists within their enterprises to develop the necessary systems and connected items. However, these firms are slow-moving elephants that cannot react quickly to what is happening underneath their feet,” said Mr. Basiliere. “Product development processes within most large enterprises are too ponderous and ROI-driven to produce anything but high-volume, lowest-common-denominator IoT objects. The result is the development of a low number of IoT uses that garner high amounts of revenue, while makers, startups and crowdsourcing efforts result in high numbers of low-revenue niche IoT applications.”
For this reason, senior management and emerging technology strategists within large enterprises must transform their product discovery processes. Whether at consumer goods companies or in the healthcare, utilities, wireless, manufacturing or other vertical markets, managers must encourage makers within their organizations to develop IoT concepts. They must closely examine the output from these makers and check the feasibility of transferring the underlying ideas into their own organizations.
“Innovation is necessary for an organization to sustain value over time and create competitive advantage. Yet in many organizations, the corporate culture and processes stagnate and harden, discouraging innovation as a result,” said Mr. Basiliere. “In the meantime, makers and startups worldwide are charging ahead with identifying numerous, often niche problems and innovating solutions using IoT concepts. They will drive not only consumer and enterprise acceptance of the IoT, but also the creative solutions that enterprises could not possibly discern, resulting in an “Internet of Very Different Things.”
Mr. Basiliere cited the example of entrepreneurs and individuals who are leveraging the low-cost Arduino open-source electronics platform, entry-level 3D printers, and traditional woodworking and machine tools to build their own IoT devices. Gartner has found that these grassroots projects focus on managing and controlling devices in the home and are more focused on providing convenience (such as turning on the heat before you arrive home) than cost savings (the focus of enterprise-sector and public-sector IoT).
Similar to other technology advances historically, the growth promise associated with the early stages of IoT will lead to the creation and funding of a large number of startup organizations that will maneuver to capture what they perceive to be early opportunities or overlooked product niches. This will lead to creative solutions and a wide range of products, many of which will fail in the market. Nevertheless, the process will lead to growth as the successful solutions are often consolidated by larger suppliers, and the overall market expands. As a result, makers enable people in underserved and niche markets worldwide — people who would not otherwise encounter the IoT offerings of large enterprises — to experience and benefit from connected device.
“It won’t all be smooth sailing. Certainly there is no small number of factors working against makers and startups, whether they have an IoT offering or a more traditional product or service,” said Mr. Basiliere. “Most small businesses fail within five years, and many of the ‘successful’ ones will be lifestyle companies that barely generate enough revenue to support an individual or family.”
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. We deliver the technology-related insight necessary for our clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, we are the valuable partner to clients in over 9,000 distinct enterprises worldwide. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, USA, and has 6,400 associates, including more than 1,480 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.
The wearable sensor instantly alerts parents and coaches when a child receives a hard blow to the head that could cause a serious injury.
The Jolt Sensor, founded by Ben Harvatine and Seth Berg, was originally an engineering lab project at MIT that was inspired by a concussion suffered by Harvatine during wrestling practice. The condition was not immediately detected by doctors and became worse as Harvatine’s brain was exposed to additional impacts.
The duo realised this problem was prevalent among young athletes, who lack adequate sideline technology and medical personnel to identify and evaluate dangerous head impacts as soon as they happen. “Through the ensuing hospital visits and months of recovery, the same thought kept crossing my mind – how could this have been prevented?” Harvatine said in his Kickstarter video.
“Many athletes like myself continue to play without realising they’ve been concussed, so there needs to be a way to alert parents, coaches and athletes of dangerous impacts as soon as they happen.”
The Jolt Sensor is a tiny 1.37in smart wearable clip that can be attached to any type of athletic headgear. The sensor vibrates to warn an athlete if it detects that the person’s head is accelerating in a potentially dangerous way.
The Jolt Sensor also makes use of Low-Energy Bluetooth technology to wirelessly send an alert to an accompanying iOS and Android smartphone app held by the parent or coach on the sidelines. The technology enables information to be sent to devices that are up to 50m away, which means it is strong enough to be used on the pitch or court. The sensor is waterproof and protected by soft silicone rubber. It comes with a micro-USB port and a battery that lasts several weeks on a single charge.
Jolt has just launched its Kickstarter campaign and has already had 132 backers pledge $11,840 (£7,129) within 24 hours, out of the $60,000 goal it hopes to achieve.
Backers will receive the Jolt Sensor if they pledge $75 or more and the startup hopes to ship the devices in April 2015. The wearable sensor instantly alerts parents and coaches when a child receives a hard blow to the head that could cause a serious injury.