Fossil is developing a new watch with an open software development kit (SDK) to allow any kind of notifications to be pushed by bluetooth from your mobile phone to a watch display. The company believes it could win the hearts of geeks by combining programability, real-time data and fashion.Wristwatch and apparel maker
Could that get you wearing a watch again? After hearing the company's reasons why a watch could be best suited for certain types of notifications, I went from skeptical to definitely interested. Here's why Fossil thinks a watch is what the real-time web needs.
We talked to Bill Geiser, Vice President of the Innovation Team at Fossil, who's been working on bringing data beyond the time to watches for years. Here's why he believes the wristwatch is the ideal interface for certain real-time notifications. I find these arguments compelling. Do you?
Some types of notifications can best be consumed at a glance - ones that are short, actionable and time sensitive, Geiser argues. Think geolocation, Twitter DMs, medical or industrial alerts. "Imagine the hundreds of interruptions we're going to get in the future," he says.
"A watch is the world's greatest glancable display but you need to be able to consume it all in a glance. As a product team, we have to have a very healthy respect for the Input/Output capacity of your device. Watches have little of both. But for a particular kind of push notifications, a watch is a very cool place to consume those."
Right: Related. Google transit geek Joe Hughes writes, "This is my Sony Ericsson MBW-150 bluetooth watch, showing the next few SF Muni bus arrival times for a nearby stop. The code to fetch the arrival times is running on my Droid phone, and communicating with the watch using Marcel Dopita's OpenWatch software for the Android platform."
I'm interested in location-bookmarking and geofencing. Hit my phone whenever I'm near an important historical landmark. Is there an historical photo available on Flickr of the place I'm at from more than 50 years ago? Has the intersection I'm standing at been in the news lately, for good or bad reasons? I'd like to glance at that info on my wrist, in case I want to view said photo or news stories on my phone. The possibilities are wide ranging. Add some internet of things data and you'll be able to see on your watch if your refrigerator is running, so you can go run after and catch it.
Unlike a mobile phone, a watch's default display mode is on, Geiser points out. The forthcoming Fossil programmable watch will be an analog display with a little bit of digital space. Think of the opportunity and social cost of pulling out your phone and turning it on, compared to glancing at a watch display that's already on and at hand. That small difference in user experience could have a big impact on our data consumption habits. Bill was in China when I DMd him on Twitter requesting an interview. His wristwatch vibrated, showed him my message and he got back to me almost immediately.
"The rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated," Geiser says of the wristwatch industry.
"People are saying the wristwatch will go the way of the buggy whip - in no way is that true. The mobile experience already isn't tied to one display. If I've got a hands free kit in my car, my car dashboard becomes a display for my phone. But if you're going to wear something, it had better look good. Our best days are in front of us because of these kinds of possibilities. The watch actually serves to create a very useful experience."
The next Fossil programmable watch is still in development but will be available as a developers' preview before it hits the mass market.