Apple is rumored to be delivering a new smart watch. The potential benefits of a wrist-worn computer are great and the challenges this new technology application creates is going to cause quite a stir.
The creative and internal editing process required to produce a culture of collaborative design and engineering talent is not easy to replicate or maintain. That may be a recipe in many ways still unique to Apple and other leaders of industry.
A small, fashionable computer product that is resistant to many climates across the globe, air pressure, water, sweat, sunlight, heat, cold, humidity, etc. would be pretty terrific. It has to stay cool as these devices give off heat to prevent burning someone’s skin. Laptops and some tablets have had this problem, some resulting in class action lawsuits.
It will require unprecedented battery life. While Apple fans loved Steve Jobs’ “One more thing…” segue used to introduce new products over the last decade, people want something that doesn’t feel like one more thing they didn’t really need that they now have to worry about charging. We don’t want to feel like a slave to our machines.
More sustainable energy solutions could solve some of this problem.
High-quality watches have kinetic energy chargers, which take arm movement and transfer that energy back to the rechargeable battery, similar to how hybrid cars work. By not having to open the watch to replace the battery, it reduces risk to the water-resistance seal.
The sad result of every watch I’ve ever owned is when I replaced the battery after a year or two, I was left with a watch that was never the same. The moisture-resistant seal was now unreliable, so the watch face would get foggy.
Add a powerful solar energy collector to a kinetic energy tool and you have a micro-sized energy recycling center that has a screen which encourages the person wearing it to exercise, take better care of their health, go outside and get fresh air and sun, which research has shown, can reduce risks of mild depression and other psychological ailments. These can lead to a snowball effect of further long-term, compounding costs of modern lifestyle choices negatively impacting our future healthcare costs.
It will still have to be charged, but this combination of sustainable energy could offset a significant portion of power loss.
Similar to how a hybrid car uses breaks and wheel motion kinetic energy collection, one’s own body movements and environment now act as a zero-emission power source that gets them out and moving.
Now that would be ingenious for a consumer-grade product.
It will need to be a seamless, wireless Bluetooth device that includes enough local storage for music or podcasts, while sending audio to a wireless headset product.
No more fiddling with wires to listen to audio. Better Bluetooth technology requires less battery power for running programs in the background, collecting data and storing it to automatically sync later when it’s near the iPhone.
There are lots of great opportunities in this type of product category. One can imagine this inevitably replacing the phone itself for many use cases.
However, we must be cautious of how much these devices are built to learn about us, deliver customized experiences which are designed to make us happy, encourage us to share our information and consider how much we can rely on the parties entrusted to store that very personal information or protect us from hackers looking to exploit that data.
In healthcare in the United States, there is a history of ethical, financial and legal repercussions to the impacts of pre-existing healthcare conditions, leaving us with an ongoing legal and moral quandary.
This is something we can not be dismissive of, as new technology challenges our preconceived notions about the ways we live and struggle to co-exist.
Let’s be mindful of how this technology further expands on our new way of life, with us inviting frequent interruptions and participating in a constantly monitored and connected experience.
One should expect Apple to do what they do best: think through details of the user experience and creatively apply currently available technology into unique combinations that feel like something brand new and revolutionary.
After all, every one and everything is a remix.
I’d wager a guess that the device is called “iLife.” From a brand strategy perspective, they already own that identity and it makes sense for a device in this context.
It’s far more than a watch.