While the smartwatches in the market today are really nice and revolutionary, the sales of these watches are still slowly building up. It is expected that about 1.2 million smartwatches will ship this year, a paltry number compared to the estimated 1.5 billion smart phone users in the world. What could be the reason for this? It is likely that the current smartwatches do not have the critical components or features that will make them a runaway success.
Euromonitor’s head of consumer electronics, Loo Wee Teck, commented current smartwatches are just not that great a customer proposition yet.
“Smartwatches try to replicate the smartphone experience on a minuscule wrist-sized screen, which translates to inferior usability or otherwise seek to complement and extend the functionality of smartphone onto a smaller screen”
So what will make the perfect smartwatch?
I have condensed it down to five components that need to be addressed before we can see this class of wearable electronics take off. These five components are design, functionality and reliability, apps, power consumption and battery life and lastly, durability. Why do I think that these are important? Well let’s look at them one by one.
The design of the smartwatch can be split into three separate parts, namely the watch body, the watch face and finally the wrist strap.
The first thing that people look at would likely be the watch body. Is it too bulky, does it look cool and fashionable? The ideal body should be suitable for both casual and formal wear. For example, the Pebble with its nice clean sporty look would blend well sports attire but might look a bit out of place when worn with a suit and tie. The newer contenders like the AGENT or Vachen however, could be worn with normal casual attire or formal wear.
The watch bodies should be at a reasonable size as well. The size of the dive computers made by Suunto are a pretty decent size without being unwieldy. They can be worn like a normal wrist watch and most divers do that.
Most guys do not mind larger watches but some ladies do. Should there be two watch sizes? Perhaps this would be a good solution, after all, we have had watch sizes for men and women all this while. However, add too much bulk to the watch and it becomes one chunky thing on the wrist that appeals to no one. The difference in watch size could mean that more goodies can be crammed into it. A larger batter would be the most welcomed and perhaps some sensors as well?
Of course the watch body should match the watch face it is displaying. The watch face, like the body, should be able to match different dressing needs as well. This is easier as the watch face can be changed with the press of a button. So this is something that the watch makers or third party developers will need to take note of. While the watch body can have a general design that fits most dressing needs, the watch face should match a particular theme. A formal classy watch face for more formal occasions to large sporty display for sporting needs, there should be enough watch faces to appeal to different users and their needs.
Pebble made this possible by releasing an SDK for third party developers to create their own watch faces.ichiteck This has lead to a huge library of watch faces for the Pebble. Vachen took a different approach. They develop their own watch faces but promise over 100 watch faces available upon the launch of the Vachen watch.
Last but not least, the watch strap. Just like the two other parts mentioned, the watch strap should be able fit most dressing situations and there are two possible ways to do this. The first way would be similar to the design fundamentals of the watch body such that the watch strap would look good whether it is worn with casual or more formal wear. A good example of this design method would be the watch straps of the Agent watch. It features an accent-stitched watch strap that looks chic enough for normal wear but the stitching adds that extra bit of class that makes it blend with formal wear as well.
A second option would be for the strap to be easily replaceable. While the Pebble and Agent use standard 22mm watch straps that are easily changed with a small screw driver, this might still be a bit too troublesome for some, especially if you change straps often or are in a rush. The Sony SmartWatch and Motorola MotoActv offer an interesting alternative. The watch body contains a spring-loaded clip which is used to clip onto the watch strap, allowing for really quick changes. The only downside of this method is that the clip adds quite a bit of thickness to the body.