Smartwatches - Bubble or Brilliance?


Smartwatches - Bubble or Brilliance?

The smartwatch is the latest idea all the big companies are bidding for. Today it was confirmed that Samsung are working on one, and the Apple iWatch rumours have been circulating for a few months. But what's so cool about a smartwatch? Many will remember the old iPod nano that could be strapped to your wrist. Is it a glorified version of that? Or is it something that will genuinely take off, an idea like the iPad?

The idea behind a smartwatch is to make the technology more immediate. The watches connect to your phone, so you don't have to reach in to your pocket to check if you've got any messages, missed calls or change the song you're listening to. This makes interacting with your phone much faster, and stops you having to drop everything when you get a text with your hands full.

Because of the digital display, smartwatches can have a huge array of different watch faces, making it super customisable. From a binary design to a digital clock face; words or numbers, the watch can look any way you want it to.

My issue is that despite this customisability, a smartwatch is inevitably ugly. A small square of screen, no matter what's on it, looks out of place on your wrist. Normal watches just look better, and what is a watch if not a fashion accessory (albeit with the added benefit of telling the time)? The curves of an analogue watch are just much more visually appealing than the squareness of smartwatches.

Look at the Pebble. You can get it in a variation of colours, and the strap is sleek and minimalist. It looks fine on a bike (as it can be used to track performance with built in GPS), but on a wrist it looks garish and out of place. Personally, no matter how cool my watch is, no matter how many things it can do, my primary concern is how it looks.

Some Pebble watch faces

Smartwatches - Bubble or Brilliance?

From my point of view, the race for the best smartwatch will not be won by the company who makes one with the most features, but by whoever can make a smartwatch look attractive. The bubble of excitement behind the smartwatch is, to an extent, justified: I can see them being extremely beneficial to people. But, in a similar way to Google Glass, we will have to get used to the ugliness of the devices and the pixelated watch faces before they start to truly take off.