Is the Smartwatch smart enough?

Published: September 18, 2013
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A smartwatch can and should push the boundaries of what can be achieved by a regular user with total freedom of mobility. PHOTO: AFP

Last week at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) in Berlin, three new ‘smartwatches’ were unveiled. The most anticipated was the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Gear. Sony showcased Smartwatch 2 and Qualcomm made an entry with Toq. While Apple’s iWatch is just around the corner, the Kickstarter backed Pebble has already sold more than 100,000 watches.

It seems that the era of smartwatches is upon us. The internet is abuzz with analysts reviewing and talking about the wearable devices dubbed as smartwatches. While everyone seems excited about the future prospects of this new category of personal wearable tech, there is this underlying consensus developing though, that smartwatches or devices of today are not yet ready to take on the consumers of the world.

I will not take this space to do yet another review of the newly launched devices but rather share five key requirements that I think a smartwatch must fulfill to qualify as a ‘watch’ and live up to the promise of ‘smart’.

1. Tell time, all the time, without the need of charging:

The basic function of a watch is to tell time, all the time. A device that needs to be charged frequently to tell time can’t really qualify as a watch. The simplest Casio digital watches have battery life of over three years, and they cost just around $10.

2. Be ‘smart’, on its own:

A watch should be able to function on its own. If it has to sync with another smart device to be smart, then it’s merely an accessory. For example this digital watch by Timex is not smart but it can do a lot without syncing with any other device. The basic standalone abilities of a smartwatch should include internet, GPS, and mobile connectivity along with music playback and motion sensing. Syncing with another smart device should further enhance the smartness of the watch.

3. Outdo the smartphone

While smartphones keep getting smarter every day, they still have limitations when it comes to ease of use in specific situations. A smartwatch can and should push the boundaries of what can be achieved by a regular user with total freedom of mobility. It can have a much more meaningful purpose when worn by a swimmer, a mountaineer, a surgeon, a pilot, a patient, a toddler, or a soldier.

4. Doesn’t have to be a fashion embarrassment:

A wristwatch has always been an essential fashion accessory for men and women. A smartwatch need not be an exception to that, rather it should add to the personal fashion statement of the one who is wearing it. A neutral and elegant case can be complimented with different types of bands that customers can choose from in order to vary the look from being formal to fun and quirky.

5. Ready to be primary and secondary choice:

While non-techie and working professionals might want to wear a smartwatch as a secondary watch at certain occasions, the techies and students might actually adopt it as the primary choice of watchThe expectations from the smartwatch in these two scenarios would be very different. The success however will come to those smartwatch makers that can fulfil both expectations equally well.

So what do you think of this smartwatch phenomenon? Would you buy one? How and when would you wear it? What features are you really looking for in a smartwatch? I would love to hear from you on this topic.

This post originally appeared here.

Aamir Altaf

Aamir Altaf

A fond traveller and right-hand batsman, Aamir is an experienced marketing professional currently living in Riyadh, KSA. An entrepreneur at heart and a father of two awesome boys, he tweets as @aamiraltaf twitter.com/aamiraltaf

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.