I've always liked watches -- all different kinds, colors and shapes. For me, it isn't about fashion and it's not really even about the ability to tell the time because I always have my iPhone with me, or my iPad, or any of the other myriad of devices I carry (that's a whole other blog). So why do I like them? I rarely, if ever, use the ancillary functions that come stock on today's modern watches such as the stopwatch, time zone converter or appointment reminder. One of my watches even has a high and low tide indicator which might be useful if I lived near the ocean (I don't). Likewise, not being a scuba diver or a person partial to baths, the water resistance capability feature is not something I put to the test very often.
What fascinates me about watches are the seemingly endless opportunities to turn the category upside down, completely changing the prevailing perceptions of contemporary practicality and our accessibility to it. For example, I recently backed an amazing watch on Kickstarter, created by some amazing people, called "The Bradley." It's a watch that doesn't require sight or sound to tell the time. Instead, two ball bearings move in sequence and by sensing their location through touch, one can determine the current time. Quite brilliant and extremely useful whether by the vision or hearing impaired, for limited or no light conditions, or even for discreet time-checks.
For me, it's also about the expedience of time-telling, and being able to ascertain it with just the slight turn of my wrist. It's so much more convenient than removing my smartphone from the belt case and then pressing buttons just so I can view the display, only to return the phone back to its original position. Seeing the time gives me the feeling that I am better "connected" to my day, and perhaps even the sense, whether erroneous or not, that I am somehow in control of it.
Given this, it's no wonder I am an advocate of the smartwatch!
And these days, there are a bunch of options to choose from: Pebble, a newly released Samsung model, and of course the rumors of Apple and Google offerings in the works. Another cool watch that caught my eye on Kickstarter is called AGENT and incorporates wireless charging, a robust application development platform to create apps and Bluetooth connectivity for a robust interaction with smartphones.
With these examples in mind and seeing where this category is headed, I've been doing some brainstorming on potential applications of this technology for use in a corporate setting. I feel there is huge potential. Piggybacking on the idea of connecting to a smartphone via Bluetooth, here are some starter ideas for all you application developers out there:
Workflow Approval – Within a corporate environment, there are endless approvals that need to occur on a daily, even hourly basis; everything from contracts and customers' requests, to capital purchases and expense reports. What if a queue of these approval requests and applicable details could be displayed on a smartwatch and with a tap or click of a button, the user can render it approved or denied?
Dual-Factor Authentication – With this application, the watch serves as an extension of an employee ID and offers secure computing with automated access behind the firewall with two-factor authentication. Just walk up to the computer and you are authenticated with your smartwatch (or else, a secure code appears on your watch display for you to enter).
Location-Based Notification – Invaluable for applications from maintenance professionals at manufacturing facilities, to scientists waiting for a lab experiment to complete. As the individual walks around the facility, the smartwatch vibrates to indicate the equipment just passed needs servicing. This concept can be applied to thousands of other ideas.
Improve Safety – Imagine getting notifications on your smartwatch with location-based safety tips, calls for help and even alerts to identify potential hazards.
These are simply a few of the ideas I have toyed with based on what I perceive as unmet needs in the commercial sector. Now it's your turn to let your imagination run wild. We're not talking about just another consumer-oriented device, but instead something corporations would see as extremely beneficial to productivity and the user experience of their employees.
Keep me posted on what you come up with!