Recently Phil McKinney, CTO for Hewlett-Packard's Personal Systems Group, showed the MetaWatch, a concept from Fossil that was inspired by some previous work at HP. Given the lackluster reception granted previous efforts such as the Microsoft SPOT, it's hardly surprising the the press yawned this time as well. Given the ubiquity of mobile phones, do we even need a wrist watch to tell time, much less to provide other communication and display functions?
Even though I could use my smart phone as a pocket watch, I still find a wristwatch to be a great convenience. It's easier (and more polite) to surreptitiously glance at a watch during a meeting than it would be to pull out a phone, even if that does happen more than it should. (See A Guide to Smartphone Manners.) And when biking or sailing, a wristwatch is waterproof and leaves both hands free for more urgent matters.
So when would an "always carry" device on the wrist be a superior alternative to a device in the pocket:
- Providing a discrete alert via bluetooth from your smart phone when the latter's vibrate mode might not be noticed.
- As a highly discrete picture taking device in environments where cameras were not welcome (art galleries, movie theaters, and defense plants beware.)
- As a payment system in places where a wallet or phone was inconvenient, e.g. the beach.
- If it could incorporate a DLP chip, a personal pico projector.
- Monitoring various physiological parameters, from blood oxygen to miles walked.
Of course displaying the time is still the "killer app" for watches, and it wouldn't hurt if it looked nice on your wrist.