The smart watch market is primed to kick into action once again when the Apple Watch hits the shelves in a couple of weeks’ time, joining other tech firms’ Android Wear offerings, including the Samsung Gear Live, LG G-Watch, and Motorola Moto 360.
While the prospect of using a nifty gadget on your wrist to play music, pay for things, track calories burned and so forth, has drummed up lots of excitement, (furthering people’s dreams of role playing a superspy) many of the current generation of smart watches may struggle to deliver on the hype – unless a number of barriers are overcome.
- The market needs to develop a standalone connected device: As things stand, most smart watches have to be connected to a smart phone in order to do smart things. Which begs the question – why buy the watch if you can do the same things with the phone in your pocket?
- Aesthetics could be a sticking point: While Apple should be given kudos for releasing a number of different styles; the standard Apple Watch design doesn’t embody classical elegance (unless, maybe, you’re a cyborg). They’re high-tech and futuristic, which will appeal to techie-minded people who are drawn to all things digital. But they may not be coveted by the mainstream; particularly those who consider a watch a traditional item of beauty, a sentimental item more comparable to a piece of jewellery than a smartphone.
However, it’s possible to make a traditionally designed watch a connected device. Limmex, a Swiss provider of personal safety solutions, has released a revolutionary emergency watch which looks like a typical Swiss watch, but with the ability to trigger an emergency call and pinpoint your whereabouts by pressing the watch button (a feature my colleague Manfred commented on recently). This connected watch, partly enabled by Gemalto’s technology, demonstrates an exciting new direction for the future of the smart watch market; where all traditional watchmakers would have a key role to play; and where mass adoption seems more likely.
While some people will opt for a smart watch with a slick interface and sophisticated technical capabilities, others may prefer a traditional look with one or two specific features. Both are reminiscent of our favourite of MI6 agent and both will enable wearers to join the Internet of Things revolution with a certain style and panache.