If we don’t expect more from our smartwatches now, we never will


Smart watches – people either love them or hate them. Why this polarity? And what must be done to close that gap between love and hate? It seems to be that some recognize that the smartwatch isn’t an entirely necessary accessory. It doesn’t replace the smartphone and doesn’t do smartphone-like tasks well enough to be entirely useful. Still, others love the accessory for having notifications available on their wrist, to be able to control some aspects of their phone hands free while running through the airport to catch the next flight. Others, who have a hole to burn through their pocket, appreciate owning the latest and greatest of knick knacks.

Truly though, what is it that is holding the smartwatch back? Upon pondering, it could be that it is simply not a stand alone product and also it doesn’t distinguish itself enough from the smartphone in terms of what it does. Without your phone it is simply an accessory that doesn’t do much of anything. It’s a vessel, a conduit that delivers what is ALREADY on the phone. There is no imagination.

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Also, the battery life is subpar and it must be charged nearly every evening. A regular watch doesn’t have this issue. Pebble could be really onto something with their e-ink display. Simplicity is key with a watch. A true watch will last all day without you having to worry about it. It works for you instead of you having to worry so much about IT. Smartwatch tech NEEDS to get to this same point.

What has become so great about fitness bands is that they last for days and sometimes weeks between a charge. They are simply really very good at doing one thing. In this way they are very akin to the paradigm of the watch. Therefore, smartwatches get stuck in a very odd place. They are not a watch nor fitness band. They try to do too much but none well enough to be appealing.

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Some things that could benefit a smartwatch are GPS, phone service of some kind (though carriers will have to work out some kind of deal to not make using a smartwatch an extra cost burden), an interface that can be entirely used by voice or with simple intuitive motions of the wrist. The less we would have to touch or swipe it, the better. Touching and swiping is a smartphone paradigm and I have to wonder if it has any place in the smartwatch industry at all.

Imagine a world where the smartwatch could ping you with a few taps on your wrist, like the Apple Watch, and tell you when you are near a place or person of interest. It could help us become more aware of the world around us independent of our phones. It could biometrically track our health without us having to intervene; then, it could represent that data on its display in a way that is simple and meaningful. It could become a remote to control our homes and appliances. It could act as a walky talky to deliver simple voice messages to help us keep in touch without distracting all that we are doing. It would need to do all of these things without needing to be charged very often and without needing much more than our passing glance – a single moment of our attention. This is what we lack now. We are expecting to interact with it like our phones. It is NOT a phone! It should be an entirely different entity!

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If we don’t imagine these things now perhaps we never will and the smartwatch will fall away. Perhaps fragments of its tech will diverge into a multitude of specialized directions.

We need to imagine more and let the watch serve us. What do you all think? Let us know of your smartwatch checklist on how to improve these gadgets.

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About The Author
Erica Griffin