The rumour mills are churning about the Apple iWatch. Pebble, Kickstarter's $10m runaway success, has finally started shipping. There's already a surprising amount of competitors trying to establish a niche, from MetaWatch to Martian to I'm Watch.
Sony have been in there for a while with their Smartwatch, and Casio have recently released a Bluetooth G-Shock. Sports and activity tracking wristbands such as the Polar range, Motorola's Motoactv and Nike Fuel are also carving into the mainstream.
The time for wristband computers is nigh.
But what functions do people really want on their shiny new wristband computer? Let's consider some of the options.
Watches have always been fashion accessories as much as they are functional items. Is looking good important to you?
Voice input device
We're already enjoying the convenience of Siri and Google Voice Search. Will you find speaking your commands more convenient if you just have to raise your wrist?
Audio output device
It may be tough to get a decent quality speaker into something small, but listening to updates, messages or phone calls could be useful. (But please don't ask me to plug headphones into my watch - someone's sure to get garrotted that way.)
What if I could set my phone or table so it automatically unlocked when I pick it up, and automatically locked again when I put it down? Proximity to my watch could identify me in all sorts of situations, ensuring that my identity stays strapped on at all times. This could even be useful for quick payments or travel passes, so long as someone clever thinks through the security implications.
When my watch vibrates on my arm I know I have a new message or appointment, but I don't offend the ears of everyone around me. A quick glance at my wrist could tell me everything I need to know - no need to pull my phone out to check what's going on. Will that help avoid interruptions, or would it be just another annoyance?
Hub for connected devices
If all my devices start connecting up, then surely the one that stays strapped to my body will be the one I check for the whereabouts of the others. Your watch could even alert you when you leave your new iPhone prototype in a bar. Will your connected watch save you from losing things?
There's plenty of options for the fitness freak already on the shelves. Whether it's hardcore fitness tracking or just encouraging you to get out more, a wristband computer may help us get up and away from the screens we spend half our lives staring at.
Maybe you don't need a computerised personal trainer, but you do need to ensure your vital signs are on track. Perhaps you would benefit from reminders of your health regime or diet. Will your watch become your health advisor?
May the wearer never get lost again. If your watch can tell where you are, it could help you get to where you're going. For parents, a wearable computer on your child's wrist could give you an easy way to ensure they are safe and easy to locate.
These are just some of the ideas that are out there. That's a whole lot of possibilities for such a small device. What would you want from yours?
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