May 22, 2014 Leave a comment
A month ago, I finally hopped onto the wearable-tech bandwagon. I’d played around before – the equivalent of standing on the footboard – but with a Fitbit that’s supposed to be worn 24/7, I’m on it.
And immediately, I have a list of problems.
Problem #1. The biggest one isn’t an issue yet – access. My phone’s small enough to fit in a jeans pocket and hold in one hand while large enough to browse the net, so almost everything I need can be got by just taking it out – but I’m already using a tablet for media consumption, and while the phone’s fine for audio, anything more visually-oriented, just won’t be as portable.
Meaning, a wrist-mounted or HUD display, running off the phone/phablet/tablet that’s sitting in the backpack.
Problem #2 – limited real estate.
The wrist is probably the most accessible, robust, and flexible option – and you don’t look as geeked-out as you would with a Glass (the contact lens should be a good step up, though) – but I have only two, and already have a watch on one and a fitness tracker on the other. Add one phone-display add-on, and that’s already one too many – plus, medical trackers, GPS locators, and a whole lot of other stuff is coming around the corner.
It’s practically back to the pager-walkman-phone-camera utility belt days.
And I refuse to strap on devices to my head, neck, wrists, ankles, and fingers, and keep track of each one’s connection, battery level, sensitivity, and integration whenever I step in or out of a shower or pool. Or a Mumbai Monsoon.
Smartwatches have to have a extension-based philosophy, I guess. A tough, moderately-sized but high-resolution screen – preferably waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof, since they’ll be getting a lot more abuse than a phone – a high-bandwidth, fast connection to the phone – and a lot of sensors.
Really, a lot.
It doesn’t need to have much processing or storage, all that can be handled by the phone – but by adding in the gyro, accelerometers, temperature, pressure, altitude, gps, body heat sensor, heartrate, gps, nfc, camera, mike, proximity, and compass, the watch can become the sensory cluster that feeds info to the brain in the phone, and reports back the results.
Let the apps that use the inputs, process it, store it, upload it, and display it back all be on the phone – that way usage is software-based, upgradeable, in the cloud. New capabilities will come out in the apps that figure out how to use the existing sensors; the watch itself can just be replaced as and when needed, or whenever a new sensor gets added and is necessary.
I’m not too enthused about modular sensors – have a feeling they’ll interfere with the aesthetics, make it too delicate. A single sensor-and-display block would probably be easier to manage.
Let’s see what comes out.