I wonder; will “wrist watch” become as quaint and oddly unrepresentative of the device as “phone” has become?
In a previous post I wrote about Kickstarter as an example how “Snowflake Effect Hits Financial Models: Snowflakes funding Snowflakes”and more recently about how the Snowflake Effect is being used to augment our human capabilities such as with “Snowflake Eyes?”. And today both of these effects get combined into the creation of wrist watches which can be infinitely personalized to display almost any data you want, receive notifications and control other digital devices.
In particular I’m referring to an about to be funded Kickstarter project for what is being called a “Pebble Watch”. Check out the short overview and photos on this Kickstarter page.
I’ve already sent in my $115 pledge and support and can’t wait until the first production run ships to me in September. Well my dear friend John will actually get to try it out first as it will be shipped to his address as I ‘m not sure just where in the world I’ll be in September,
** see http://learnativity.typepad.com if you’re interested in my whereabouts and sailing around the world.
But John and I will find a way to link up and he will get to have fun with it first. He is also the best technical reviewers I know so I’ll get the next best thing to using it myself and share more with you then.
Of course I am particularly susceptible to this one as I will admit to having a life long love of clocks and watches so as soon as I learned about this cool new “Pebble” watch was being proposed via the Kickstarter project, it was a no brainer for me to jump in. But then again and as a testament to what I wrote up previously about how powerful this form of funding can be, this Pebble project had a goal of $100,000 that needed to be reached before these watches could start being made and they reached over $1 million in the first 28 hours, and as of this writing (April 14) they were over $2.6 million so the project is more than fully funded and will close on May 18th, 2012.
While I hear some say that watches are “so yesterday” and are declining in use as we have so many other sources for knowing the time on everything from our phones, to cameras, tablets, TV’s and computers, but I don’t see this happening so much and instead I think wrist watches will follow a path similar to phones. Think about what you do with your “phone” on a daily basis and I think you too will find that you use it for almost everything but a “telephone” as you text, Email, read, take pictures, draw, get turn by turn directions, ask a question (type or voice), check the time and oh yea, make or answer a voice call. In a similar way I think we will find ourselves continuing to chose to wear wrist watches for a long time to come and that we will start using them for so many more things than just telling time.
One of the reasons I think mobile devices and our “mobile” phones have become so ubiquitous for so many of us is that we are so much more likely to have them with us at the time and point of need, providing us with another big step towards the long promised “information at our fingertips”. The more recent and significant jump to “smart” phones that connect to the web, have touch based interfaces and run applications was synchronistic with the move to more pro active and interactive uses of our devices such as the addition of a digital camera built into that ever present phone enabling us to capture that unexpected serendipitous moment.
To my way of thinking, something you wear all the time increases the notion of “mobile” up by another order of magnitude and the net effect over time will be enormously popular and pervasive. Consider how much more accessible a watch on your wrist is than a phone in our pocket or purse! Many of us wear watches 24 hours a day so they are difficult to forget and truly always with you and there is no need to fumble as you fish it out of your pocket or purse. It is always right there, right when you want it. VERY compelling to me at least.
Wearing a watch also seems to be such an easy way for so many people to try out truly useful “wearable computing”. While I personally am also looking forward to the days of having actual implants and bionic things like true inner ear “head phones” (another intriguingly quaint term), microphones and sight augmenting devices in and around our eyes, those less inclined to take this big step could easily strap on one of these type of new “smart watches”, no surgery or injections required!
Even in their initial release, these new Pebble watches can display most anything that is on your iPhone or Android device via Bluetooth, interact with and control these devices and notify you with sounds or vibrating alerts. Additional HCI (Human Computer Interaction) comes in the form of the built in 3 axis accelerometer so you can use physical gestures such as shaking the watch to dismiss a notification or vibrating to let you know of an incoming call or notice or timer. You can also receive notifications from your “if this then that” (www.ifttt.com) app and any routines and alerts you have set up there which is a very powerful and multiplying combination. If you are not yet aware of IFTTT that alone is ell worth checking out ASAP.
What I’m’ excited about and how I will look forward to snowflaking my Pebble when I catch up with it include:
- having immediate access to my GPS and other boat info as I’m sailing. I’ve already got things in place so that there is a full WiFi “bubble” on Learnativity and there are more and more apps and links between all my boat instrumentation, and navigation data with my laptops, boat computer, tablets and phones. With the addition of one of these watches on my wrist will mean that all this data is always just a glance away and even some controls are ever present on my wrist no matter where I am on the boat, and even off much of the time.
- Getting vibrating alerts to wake me up if needed when I’m on a multi day passage and something happens that deserves my attention like a change in the wind or something popping up within the Radar alert circle I’ve programmed, or a call comes into my sat phone, or …… well you get the idea.
- Being able to customize any and all screens on the watch for things as simple as analog or digital watch faces to how much data to display.
- Instant access to my ever present music so I can mute it when a VHF radio call from another boat comes in or I want to skip a song that has come up that isn’t just right for the moment.
- abilty to receive alerts and notifications for any of the IFTTT (if this then that) routines I have set up. (see www.ifttt.com ) for details.
- and because I really do think these watches are going to take off and there is already an SDK kit for developers I’m looking forward to a future of more and more apps being written to extend all these capabilities.
None of these are new capabilities and I do have them on various devices, but that is kind of the point and the big deal with watches; I can now have access to all those other devices with me at all times, just a glance and an arms length away. IMHO these are the very same reasons that mobile devices of all kinds have taken off so unexpectedly and exponentially in so many regions and cultures.
And don’t even get me started on the applications and implications these new watches will have on learning. There is fun story about teachers reminding their students “I know you are texting in class; not even teenagers look down at their crotch and smile for so long!” so I guess teachers will have a bit more trouble (though not too much) telling when student are texting in class. Or getting some “help” during an exam! However the positive uses FAR outnumber these more comical or negative ones and I’m sure I at least have yet to imagine some of the specific innovative new ways to use the wrist watch to augment our learning. In most cases though I see that the change will be less so in adding new capabilities we don’t have now and more the case of augmenting what we already have and applications that will be developed in the future and simply yet profoundly changing things dramatically by providing communications between us in the way of the Snowflake Effect; just the right person at just the right time in just the right way.
Time will tell (sorry couldn’t help myself) so stay tuned and do check out Kickstarter in general and this new Pebble watch in particular. Maybe it is just the geek in me or maybe it is my watch fetish kicking in, but I fully expect the word “watch” to join the growing list of quaint understated terms like phone, computer and camera. Hard for me to imagine that we won’t soon have young children asking “Where did the word phone come from?” and we will have some difficulty remembering the days of the telephone.