Tag Archives: wearables

Connection, Communication, Consolidation, Convergence, Context

Last week I was presenting my thoughts & ideas on future tech & trends with a client, so I thought I’d share them here… but let’s look at where we’ve come from, where we are now & where we appear to be heading.

Connection: Advent of the internet; Arpanet (1969), email (1972), internet mainstream (circa 1982), the web (1989)

Communication: Social media, Amazon (1994), Google (1998), Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006). RFID & NFC payment systems, Oyster card (2003), Starbucks (10% of transactions are now NF & Mobile)

Consolidation: (Hub Device) Technology & users reliant on connectivity to the internet. Most obvious tech consolidation is the smart phone, no longer separate cameras, music players, web browser (iPhone 2007)

Now
Convergence:
Individual devices share data & influence one another autonomously (AKA The Internet of Things). We’re moving away from a world of dumb devices, to one of connected intelligent smart devices.
Consumption / Gathering:
Wearable devices: Wrist: Nike Fuel, Jawbone UP, Fit Bit, Nymi, Pebble, Samsung Gear, Sony SmartWatch, Qualcomm Toq, TomTom, Nissan Nismo / Head: Google Glass, Weartrons RnR, Melon / Feet: Nike+ Sensor.
Sensors: Medical Equipment (health, safety) Scanadu Scout Tricoder, Climate & Ambient Systems, Automobiles
POS & POI: Info Boards, Posters, Displays, Barcode Scanning, RFID / iBeacons (Estimote)
Smart Devices & Home Appliances: Music, TV, Lighting, Utilities, Security (locks, access controls, monitoring).
Prime Devices: Sony Lens Camera, POV’s, Audio Recorders
Creation / Output: Bespoke Product Design, 3D Printing

Where we’re heading:
Context: Location & context specific “big” data & actions
(The Age of Context / Networked Society).
Example: You’re on your way to a meeting, your Hub Device, knows where you are, your schedule, where you’re going, who you’re meeting (so it likely knows where they are too), what the traffic conditions are like ahead. Earlier it told you to leave early as there was traffic congestion, but that’s cleared, so you’re going to be early, so it suggests you wait it out at one of your favourite coffee shops (it knows there’s space at the coffee shop and can even tell you where the nearest parking space is, it could even pre-order your drink for you if you want), but it also knows it’s your kids birthday and has access to your to do list, so it suggests you can use the downtime to order & pick up the present, as there’s a special promotion on at the moment.

The Age of Context relies on the autonomous sifting of Big Data and putting it into context. Big Data is a cinch to create, but unfortunately a major stumbling block is the lack of correlation between systems & datasets, there are no open standards or protocols for sharing, and the likelihood of the social silo’s of Google, Facebook, Twitter & FourSquare et al sharing our data anytime soon is unlikely without a disruptive element.

The News & Education sectors will continue to go through major shifts, with Healthcare undoubtedly seeing the next major shake up with advances in self monitoring data & preventative care.

Brands & advertisers have huge opportunities to make their offerings even more granular & responsive, so stand a better chance of interaction, by being more personal & engaging by leveraging the viewers personalised preferences & location based data. In effect Contextual Advertising, is the Marketeers equivalent to responsive web design, advertising that adjusts to the viewers location & tastes.

Keeping with the C theme, I could suggest the next stage will be “Coherence” (the quality of forming a unified whole), but I won’t go that far for now… I can’t predict the future, things we take for granted today, weren’t even launched or invented 2-3 years ago, so who knows what we’ll be using in 5-10 years time?

Below is an example of a Networked Society (more examples on the Ericsson Channel)

What iWant iWatch To Be, Not a Watch!

iwatch

While very beautiful, the image above is not what I want a wearable from Apple (or any other manufacturer) to be, and I very much doubt Apple would produce it, not because they couldn’t, but because it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t serve any additional purpose, users already have an iPhone in their pocket, why would anyone slap another one on their wrist?

I haven’t worn a watch for at least 10 years, my mobile is good enough for me when I’m mobile, and the menu bar on my Mac is a glance away when I’m at work, so a watch is redundant for me, if I’m about to put something on my wrist it needs to add functionality, not simply replicate another device (or look worth mugging me for).

I know Apple have started trademarking the name iWatch around the globe, but I suspect that’s either Brand Protecting whatever they do produce from copycats, or it’s putting the rest of the market off the scent of what they’re really working on… who knows, maybe iWatch is a trademark to cover something they’re working on for the Apple TV, referring to what customers view and has nothing to do with time keeping?

I have friends with Pebble watches, but they all tell me not to bother, why? Because they sound great on paper, but in reality they don’t actually add any real purpose or benefit to their daily routine. Example they’ve all said, you receive an SMS, your phone vibrates or goes ping, you start to reach for your phone in your pocket and then the Pebble on your wrist goes ping and vibrates, mmmmm… is that worth $150? There are plenty of others in the market, Sony, Samsung, Google Glass, but personally I don’t want to walk around looking like an extra from Star Trek, at least Google Glass is waterproof! So it has to look like something people would want to wear regardless of it’s function!

Apple have an amazing eco system they can monitor, they monitor how & where users are using their iOS devices, what apps they’re downloading, utilising, erasing, that’s a goldmine of UX. Their partnerships with the likes of Nike have been carefully orchestrated and even more carefully monitored, they now employ a former Nike Fuel Band consultant. They’ve purchased sensor development companies, notably in the medical monitoring and healthcare sectors.

But let’s look at the practicalities… the real world have hard surfaces, technology doesn’t like being smacked around and nobody likes scratching their shiny new bit of tech, why else would their be a multi-billion dollar industry in protective cases. And that’s for something that sits a large amount of it’s time on your desk, in your pocket, or bag… something on your wrist is going to get a lot more abuse, you move your arms around a lot more. And let’s no forget, we’re organic, we sweat, we have bacteria living on our skin, we get wet, we wash, we take showers, we wash our hands, we swim, snowboard, ride bikes, mountain climb, go running etc any device spending the majority of its time on our wrist or any other part of our body, needs to stand up to all of that. Something made of shiny white plastic and glass wouldn’t last long. Plus, with a reasonable size screen power becomes an issue, and with extra batteries comes extra weight.

So rather than a glorified wrist watch that offers a limited and lacklustre phone experience (which in itself is contrary to Apple’s raison d’être), I envisage an elegantly simple looking, non-descript, screenless, virtually seamless device that we forget we even have on our wrist until it reminds us with a little vibration, ping, or illumination. Something water proof, that monitors our biometrics (heart rate, temp, glucose levels, unique ECG pattern, sleeping patterns), our movement, elevation, velocity, has a fingerprint scanner for ID confirmation, handles NFC payments (Ski passes, transportation, Oyster), handles security (opens doors Locitron), connects to other devices around it (BLE & iBeacons), is voice controlled (Siri), has a battery that lasts days, not hours and costs no more than $200-250. If there is a version with a screen, then something with only limited functionality, i.e. SMS, email notifications, alarms, calendar events, media playback control (pause, stop, next, previous, volume etc)… and of course, the time! An always on screen would kill battery life of course, but a screen that only activates when prompted should be ok.

I could go on, but you get the idea, it adds functionality and usability where a mobile phone can’t (or it wouldn’t be practicable). That’s a wearable I’d wear.

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The above image is taken from an Apple patent for a wearable device, akin to a reflective snap on a cyclist would wear.

UPDATE (Jan 2014):
Wow just stubbled across this concept by Thomas Bogner, he must be a kindred spirit!

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