electronic brain surgery since 2001

SmartWatch? SensorWatch!

I lost my watch in America. Yes, I was wearing a watch. I decided to wear a watch again after I hadn't for over ten years and it was mostly a fashion accessory. But when selecting the model I went for features as well: I picked a radio controlled, solar powered one that also had multiple timezone support. Now it's gone and I'm thinking about how to replace it. I could simply buy the same model again, or I could go for something smarter – a smart watch.

Unfortunately nobody seems to understand what a smart watch should do. Manufacturers seem to think of it as either a second mobile phone or at least as a second screen to your phone. But that's not it. It's the sensors, stupid!

Let's have a look at some products available (or in funding) right now:

Fitbit Flex Jawbone Up Angel Pebble Sony MN2SW Galaxy Gear
81e9tpbfnml._sx300_.jpg 20130730070500-white-770x679.jpg icon.medium.jpg
Motion Sensor {yes} {yes} {yes} {no} {no} {yes}
Heart Rate Sensor {no} {no} {yes} {no} {no} {no}
Blood Oxygen Sensor {no} {no} {yes} {no} {no} {no}
Temp. Sensor {no} {no} {yes} {no} {no} {no}
Display {no} {no} {no} e-Ink OLED AMOLED
Vibration {yes} {yes} {no} {yes} {no} {no}
Bluetooth 4.0 {no} 4.0 3.0 3.0 4.0
Battery Life ~5 days ~10 days ? ~5 days ~3 days ~1 day

See where I'm getting at? There are some very useful fitness/health sensor products available that already found their niche and usecase. They are lightweight, stylish and supposed to stay on my wrist all day. But none of them tells the time! And then there are “smart watches” that are a bit clunky and basically do nothing my phone not already does.

Quantified Self is where the future of watches is. Make use of the position a watch gives you: permanently in touch with my skin, worn all day, exposed to the environment I live in. Let it gather the data and let my smartphone do the cool things with it. Make me healthier, let me sleep better or simply make my life more convenient.

So here's the product I'd buy:

  • eInk Display
  • a few hardware buttons
  • lots of sensors
  • vibration (for silent notifications)
  • enough internal memory to store all the sensor data to not talk to my phone all the time
  • Bluetooth 4.0 low power connection
  • SDK, so App developers can make use of all the sensor data
  • decent battery life (about a week would be perfect)

What I don't need:

  • Camera
  • Audio output (maybe a beeper)
  • A Touchscreen

Now if you could put that into a somewhat decent looking design, you'll get my money.

smartwatch, rant, product, comparison
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