The smart watch has had a rough pre-release over the past few months. If there's anything we can learn from the great smart watch rumor mill, it's that the smart watch will have a rude kick-off when the first models enter the wearable tech scene later this year.
From iWatch rumors to Pebble reviews, the synced smart watch will need unconditional care upon launch. Where most have simply shunned the idea as being impractical, others have lauded the practicality of it. In essence, then, the smart watch is the Rodney Dangerfield of wearable tech. I can almost hear it screaming, "I don't get no respect!" But will it get respect if it can show us what we've been missing?
From a purely functional point of view, the smart watch seems as limited as it sounds. The idea of connecting your smartphone to a watch means the user prefers not to stare at a large, vivid 1080p display. The assumption is that the user would prefer to simply glance at their wrist. The idea that we stare down at our smartphones too often is both preventable, and manageable, according to wearable tech. But we first need to be convinced its a necessary alternative to the smartphone. Users will demand it have complementary attributes, or else its simply a medium between phone and face.
And as the rumor mill continues to churn out facades like "flexible displays", OLED back-lighting, and week long battery life, I'm beginning to question my initial perspective that smart watches will be a success.
At first, the smart watch appears to be the perfect device to use on the go. It's less intrusive. It allows you to get all the information you need without having to whip out the mothership, your smartphone. In the face of sports, I would much rather carry a watch on my wrist, instead of a smartphone on my shoulder. I find value in the idea that biometrics could soon play a role in tracking my heart beat, blood pressure, and body fat. But what if you don't live an active lifestyle? What real reason do you have for an intermediary device like a smart watch?
In short, the smart watch needs a single feature that will provide true functionality in the face of any setting, not a feature set limited to incoming emails, text messages, and phone calls.
And for Google, that feature is Google Now. Google Now can push the smart watch idea towards the notion that information is only useful if timely. The idea of an OS on your wrist could be implemented entirely around the Google Now card setting. The thought that flight information, event reminders, package tracking information, and weather updates can seamlessly integrate into the forefront of a smart watch is practical, and useful. And Google Now makes too much sense for the company to ignore.
Furthermore, Google Now as the front-running smart watch home screen also makes the idea seem more realistic. Wearable tech is clearly what manufacturers like Apple, Google, and LG have on their mind in 2013. With that said, the interface must also maintain a certain level of usefulness in the face of quick notifications. After all, no one can really expect to have a full-size keyboard on their wrist, right? With Google Now as the homepage of a smart watch, there would be access to location-based information, tailored notifications via a Google account, and voice control.
If you've ever used Google Now, the voice recognition is easily one of its strongest characteristics. The idea of speaking to your wrist to reply to text messages, or navigating the interface by uttering "home," or "back" could be Google's competitive advantage. I expect voice recognition to play a strong role in my interaction with any form of wearable tech.
This is the icing on the cake for Google at the moment. With the unequivocal functionality of Google Now, it's looking more like the Mountain View company's only way of delivering a smart watch, rather than an option. And as Android is an open source and embedded OS, you can guarantee that Google Now will be highly tailored to its new home on your wrist.
Would Google Now on your wrist make sense? When the smart watch comes about, what single feature would make you consider it? Your comments are appreciated!