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Usability Issues of Smart Watches

Smartwatches are coming – Nissan just released the Nismo Watch, Qualcomm with their Toq, and Samsung has their Galaxy Gear. Giovanni Mancini of E Ink provides some food for thought on why these new smart watches will not necessarily take off right away; they create an extra distraction for the user without providing them a new and unique service.

Main issue:

  • Size and Weight – Smartwatches are bulky at the moment – the screens, processors, and especially the batteries create a larger device on the wrist than humans are accustomed to. Mancini suggests that smart watches can be made smaller by having only enough computing power for handling a specific niche (such as exercise) and defer to its smartphone counterpart for any heavy processing that may need to be done.

As developers and technologists, it is important to pay attention to these trends and understand them as an experiment in usability – how do users really want to consume mobile content?

Companies are searching for a way to allow people to use their devices without digging in their pockets and staring down at their smartphones as they walk down the street. Google Glass is one approach, and perhaps a Smart Watch is another – only time and the hype cycle will tell if these devices are needed or if users would just rather lose themselves in their smartphones and tablets.

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