I recently bought a very nice watch that I like very much. It’s well built, expensive, and only tells time. It costs more than the Pebble smart watch and will probably cost more than any watch that Apple, Samsung, or anyone else can release given consumer willingness to pay for a smart watch, which isn’t a lot. If you’re an Apple fan, that’ll be the iWatch. For Android fans or Galaxy fans, maybe it’ll be the Galaxy watch (and just about every tech giant out there are now said to be working on their own watches).
Until two days ago, I didn’t see any need for a smart watch. I’ve got my mobile device with me each and every single day. See, I went to the market to buy ingredients to make a veggie curry dish. I wrote all the ingredients I needed on a small yellow Post-it, 2x1.5”. As I walked around supermarket gathering the things I needed, I occasionally stuck on my sleeve so I could free up my hands to bag some veggies and fruits.
After putting away the potatoes in my basket, I realized how cool it would be if a smart watch can display grocery lists or even to-do lists. Then I could have written what I needed on my phone or PC and have the information sent to the watch instead of using a Post-it. It was just an inconvenience (or call it laziness) to take out my phone for each and every single item.
What I realized is that for a smart watch to be effective and useful, it has to become the GPS for our lives - a guide, no more or less. It has the become more of a guide than even our mobile devices have been or could be. Maybe it’s a combination of alarms, app displays, and serve as a remote control for a music player. It has to not only remind me of appointments of what to pick up at groceries, but may see if I’ve forgotten anything. I’m sure this will be very useful to my nephew who constantly forgets to bring back his homework from school.
Another word to put it, one of the main functions if a smart watch is to serve as a Post-it.
Or if there is a change in weather, it recommends that we bring a coat or umbrella. This could be done through a sensor on the watch (I’ve seen watches that can gauge the temperature since I was little) or the Internet.
Then there’s also tons of medical applications that a smart watch can help us with. Sure, taking pills is one thing but being able to detect our vitals are something that smart watchs will absolutely have to do in the future.
Oh, and of course, various exercise functions as well that are currently being served by Fitbit, Jawbone, and Nike’s wearable devices. But it could help if the watch can encourage us to be more active.
The bottom line is this. Instead of alerting us, a smart watch has to seamlessly become a part of our life and “remind” us of things and tasks when needed. And when it's done, it goes back to being a regular watch that gives us time. We don’t want to have to tell our watches what it needs to do for us. It has to already its role.
Maybe this is the role that Siri or Google Now could play perfectly on a watch. A guide to remind and encourage us to make the most of our time.
Note: As for social alerts like Facebook or Twitter updates, I'm not sure they're all that central to a smart watch. These types of alerts serve only to interrupt us from our tasks. Many people already turn off some app and social alerts on their iPhones or Android devices already. Selective or better quality alerts for our lives has to be balanced.