The hot new thing in tech right now is “wearables”. From Google Glass to the Galaxy Gear to the humble Pebble, it seems like everyone is trying to get into the game. Manufactures seem to be trying to cram as much as they can into these things out of the gate instead of focusing on what I believe to be the fundamentals: battery life and style, and basic functionality.
Let’s start with the easy stuff first. Battery life is pretty self-explanatory. The device should at least last all day regardless of usage. Longer is always better of course, but if I have to throw it on a charger at night, no big deal since I’m not going to wear it to bed. Charging however does need to be made easy. Being able to throw my phone and watch onto a wireless charging mat on my nightstand would be ideal rather than fiddling with multiple cords, plugs and adapters.
Style is a little more subjective, but I prefer something subtle, not a brick on my wrist. It seems like everyone is in the mode of bigger is better as far as screen size goes, but I have small wrists, so bigger would just make me look silly and not wear it. Until Apple (maybe) comes up with their design I think the new Pebble with the metal band nails the style category.
What constitutes basic functionality will also vary with the user, and as these devices advance even what I want to see will change. I have a Pebble, and so far it does everything I need one of these wearable devices to do. When I first got it I was amused by it but not really overwhelmed. As I continued to wear it though, it’s usefulness stood out more and more to the point that if I would wear one of my other watches I would miss the Pebble. All I want from my Pebble (right now) is exactly what it does. I get notified of texts, meeting reminders, see who is calling and decline them (yes, I can answer as well, but why? If it’s someone I want to talk to I’ll see that and dig my phone out) and check the weather all without needing to pull my phone out. It’s a quick and subtle way to see if what is buzzing in my pocket is important or not. It seems like a small thing, but I had the exact same experience when I got a new car and it didn’t have a smart key. Not having to pull the key fob out of my pocket was just one less thing I had to deal with and is one of those features that I will now always look for. The same holds true for the information the Pebble provides.
I’m excited to see where all this is going and I think it will someday be big, but companies need to start with a “less is more” approach and really focus on the basics rather than try to implement half-baked ideas that just leads to mediocre products that can potentially sour the response to this potentially very useful line of products.