Wearable Computing – The Smartwatch And The App Personality Matrix
Wearable computing is about to change mobile in ways we haven’t thought of yet. However, devices without apps are honestly just soulless pieces of hardware that have no real purpose. Infuse devices with apps that are useful and intuitive to individuals and you have a potential matrix that is an extension of the user.
Watching the announcement of the new Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch and observing news of other smartwatches and wearable devices, I began thinking of our research on the app personality matrix (The Mobile App Personality Matrix: Transform The Device; Transform The Experience).
In the mobile app personality matrix research, we discuss that, due to touch, voice, gesture and motion sensing, a mobile device can become whatever the app is designed to do. It can be a book reader, it can deposit checks, file a claim and a myriad of other capabilities. Natural and intuitive user experiences are as essential as feature and function, and redefine how people interact with IT assets and processes. The mobile app personality matrix enables new transformative classes of applications.
Wearable Devices: The Smartwatch
Wearable devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch and other smartwatches, presents a new kind of device that comes physically attached to the user and is an extension of other devices they are synched with. For these types of devices to be successfully adopted, they have to be a natural extension and not a nuisance. The apps have to be accessible via gestures that make sense to the user.
Samsung announced their Galaxy Gear smartwatch on September 4, 2013 at the IFA 2013 event. My initial observation was, hey that is cool, but how useable will it be. My latter observation came as it was revealed that the smartwatch was dependent on the Samsung Galaxy device for connectivity. The Galaxy Gear will be connected via bluetooth to your Galaxy device. There will also be lots of apps available for it in the Galaxy Gear app store. The question is, going forward, how much processing power can be put into a small device like a watch or a pair of glasses?
The Galaxy Gear seems to be an improvement on previous smartwatches such as the Sony SmartWatch. However, at a price point of $299, we believe Samsung will have a challenge selling this device with its dependence on the Galaxy devices such as the Note 3. So the actual price point will be your parent Galaxy device plus the $299 for Gear. Samsung guidance is that Gear will also work with the Galaxy S3/S4 by its official release on September 25th with upgraded software. This currently limits Gear to work with only Samsung devices.
A smartwatch does have potential benefits for certain worker types. Those who are always remote and in industries like manufacturing, doing field work, may find it convenient to have an extension to their smartphone without picking up their phone for texts, email or calling. The smartwatch would have to prove itself to be indeed smart. That has been the knock on previous iterations of smartwatches.
The Wearable Computing Space Heats Up
I must say though, all of the recent smartwatch announcements do kind of seem like the undercard matches in a major boxing event. It seems everyone is waiting for the main event, which will be what Apple reveals as the iWatch, whenever that happens and possibly what Google announces. Not to take anything away from Sony, Samsung and Qualcomm, but we believe anticipation for what Apple and Google officially release is accelerating movement in this space.
With that said, it seems everyone is trying to get into the wearables game. Nissan just announced their Nissan Nismo smartwatch that connects drivers to their Nismo cars. It’s become an absolute free for all! The entire wearable space is heating up with providers from a myriad of industries including technology and car manufacturing. We believe one of the main issues with wearables will be one of consistency, as the device becomes an extension of the individual. The interaction between device and user has to be seamless.