This is the imWatch. It’s an Android based “smart watch”. A wrist mounted, connectable little computer with a proper OS. I’ve been thinking about these things quite a bit recently - and now one exists.
The reason I’ve been thinking about smart watches is that I’ve been wearing a TikTok since Christmas.
Having a little computer on my wrist has been great in some ways. I’ve been thinking about what I could do if it would connect to my iPhone and display push messages, allow me to access the media stored on my phone or stream stuff that my phone is fetching from the internet. I’ve been thinking about personal and private devices collaborating and working alongside each other as an ensemble. Networked software with distributed interfaces that flow across devices of various scales. Proper Ubicomp.
Having a little computer on my wrist has been hugely frustrating. It doesn’t actually do any of these things at all. It’s running a flavour of iOS, it has multitouch and it so obviously has the capacity to run third party apps if Apple allowed it to but it really seems there’s been a decision not to do these things.
There was a camera sized gap in the first iPad’s shell. I reckon it was removed at the last minute because it risked opening the doors for a load of lacklustre video chat or camera based apps which would distort people’s understanding of what the iPad was at the time of launch. There’s a camera in iPad2 but people are starting to get what an iPad actually is now and there’s a set of established apps that help to define it. Maybe Steve Jobs thinks people aren’t ready for a connected microtab - yet. When the iPod Nano was launched he did say that it would make a good watch. That’s not going to be a flippant remark.
Regardless of whether people are ready for it or not the imWatch is out soon. It’s running an open platform, it’s (fairly) cheap and it’s available to preorder now. I’m not saying having another glowing rectangle (especially on your wrist) is necessarily a good thing but I’m really interested in the challenges we might face when designing for microtabs. It’ll be really interesting to see where Apple takes the Nano next and how devices of this scale develop over the next few years.