Sorry Samsung, That’s a Computer - Not a Watch.
Here’s What a Smart Watch Should Look Like.
With the Galaxy Gear Watch, Samsung just proved that the industry doesn’t understand wearables. Sorry, it’s not enough to stick a computer to a strap and call it a day. So, what’s wrong with the Galaxy Gear? It’s not cohesive. It doesn’t look like a beautiful merger of computer and watch—but rather—a frankensteinian mess. Who wants that?
So, how do you make a smart watch desirable? Easy, take a desirable watch and make it smart.
Here’s my Take:
Shape is essential for conveying a watch’s purpose. Sports watches are bold with strong bezels; dress watches smaller and more refined. But, what about a smart watch?
Smart watches strive to improve our every-day activities — so simple, yet refined aesthetic matches well. In this case, I chose to model this watch after IWC’s Pilot watches. They hit the sweet spot between sporty and refined.
At this point, there is already a clear departure from smart-watch-norm: A round case. Which begs the question: why are square-shaped smart watches so ubiquitous? Well, when you start from a computer instead of a watch, it’s no surprise. For the last decade, the vast majority of computers have utilized a rectangular display. After designing this concept, I can understand why most companies would shy away from taking on the challenges a round interface presents.
As for the interface, I chose to stick with Samsung’s black and white motif. When done well, it can provide a sense of refinement and elegance. Consistent use of highlights and thin elements creates a much-needed sense of cohesiveness.
I’ve chosen to use a simple bi-directional navigation for the menu. It’s easy to understand and it’s already a smart phone paradigm. Users can access the menu utilizing a pinch gesture. Tapping on an icon will open an application.
Most icons will have some dynamic information. Song progression, temperature, and time are all easily readable from the menu. Icons themselves are minimal representations of their respective apps. This allows the use of a zoom animation when entering or exiting an application.
A watch interface isn’t great for data creation. Even for consumption, a small screen will always lose to a phone or computer. So what then? I feel a smart watch’s greatest utility is in making simple tasks — easier. For me, these just happened to be: taking pictures, listening to music, and checking the time and weather.
Shown above is a simple, 7-day weather app. Slide your finger around the outer ring of the screen to change the forecast time/day. The specific forecast time will appear below the dot as you slide.
Here are some additional apps:
A Bluetooth enabled music-app for those on the go. Spin the Vinyl surface to rewind or fast forward. Tap to play/pause. Slide left to play the next song.
Slide your finger around the outer ring to zoom in or out. A handy shutter animation will accompany the zoom level. Tap to snap a picture!
Holding the side of the case will activate Si— err, voice command. Used for simple commands such as weather inquiries and music controls.
Suffice to say, creating a desirable watch doesn’t end in it’s aesthetics. Build quality has to be extremely high and it’s hardware has to allow for smooth animations and load times. Overall, it’s a huge endeavor.
However, I have no doubt Samsung will continue to iterate and improve on the Galaxy Gear. Looking at the Galaxy Gear’s current iteration, it’s clear that Samsung’s base intentions were good—they just struggled to hit the mark.
I still have hopes that Apple will come out with a smart watch that will blow us all away. They did it with the iPhone in 2007, the iPad in 2010, so why not the iWatch in 2013?
Thanks for reading!