Are You Ready For The Apple Watch?

Today marks the official ship date for the first batch of Apple Watch pre-orders, but developers and brands have long been preparing for its arrival. With its limited screen space, the Watch might not seem very brand-friendly at first. In order to connect with users of the Watch, brands need to move away from the “interrupt and engage” approach to adding value within the appropriate context. Here’s how three industries are getting ready for Apple Watch:

Mobile Payment and Banking
Equipped with NFC chips, Apple Watch allows users to use Apple Pay without their phones once the devices are linked up. Besides making mobile payment as convenient as a simple lift of wrist, personal banking is also coming to Apple Watch as banks like Citi Bank and CIBC launch apps for Apple Watch. Citi’s Apple Watch app, for example, uses its Glance feature to show clients their financial information quickly, while also subtly notify the users when a purchase is made on their cards.

Another industry embracing the potential changes that Apple Watch might bring is medical healthcare. The use of smartwatches in healthcare communication, in particular, holds great potential to improve the speed and quality of care delivery. While sensors monitoring of activities, sleep cycles, pulse rate, and other biometrics have become standard features on most smartwatches, Apple Watch comes with over a dozen healthcare apps that can not only help people to stay fit, but also lets doctors preemptively recognize potential health risks.

Connected Devices
Thanks to the personal nature of smartwatches, the Apple Watch will be able to understand and anticipate behavioral needs, which makes it the perfect control hub for connected devices. Use cases range from the connected coffee machine that automatically starts brewing as you soon as you get up, to the connected light bulbs that create the perfect bedroom lighting to help you fall asleep. So far, at least 3 smart home brands have added support for Apple Watch, with more expected to follow soon.

So far, the Lab has received three of our pre-ordered Apple Watch, all set up and loaded with great apps. Visit us to try one on in person!


Competitors Gear Up In Anticipation Of Apple Watch Release

Days before the long-anticipated official release of Apple Watch, several brands are announcing their own major releases all hoping to capitalize on the forthcoming public attention and legitimacy that Apple may bring to the market, including:

Equipped with a new color e-paper screen, a 7-day-long battery life, and a new timeline-based interface, Pebble’s new Time smartwatch has become the most funded project in Kickstarter history in just one week, with a whopping $16 million in pre-orders so far.

One of the highlights of Mobile World Congress has been a well-received minimalist smartwatch from little-known Chinese manufacturer Huawei. Billed as its first play for the western markets yet, the Huawei Watch is backed by Android Wear OS.

Trying to recapture the attention of mobile phone consumers, Motorola announced earlier this week that a new version of its Moto Maker, the consumer-facing customization tool for Moto X, will be soon adapted to offer more personalization options for its smartwatch Moto 360.(Update: the customization site is now live.)

How will the Apple Watch stack up to all these eager competitors? Follow the Lab on Monday as we live tweet the event, followed by end-of-day recaps and implications for brands.

Header image taken from Huawei Watch’s official webpage

Look Out For The Swatch Smartwatches

Read original story on: The Verge

Fashion watch-maker Swatch is planning to sell its own smartwatch within the next 3 months, which would put it in direct competition with the upcoming Apple Watch. The company claims their first wearable will support Windows and Android systems, communicate via Internet connection, and have mobile payment functions, all without “having to be charged”.

While that may sound a little too good to be true, it has definitely got us intrigued to learn more about it. Battery life has been a long-standing problem for wearables, and if Swatch has found a way to fix this issue, it might just have a real shot at taking a piece of the burgeoning wearable market.

CES 2015: LG Debuts Functional Open webOS-based Smartwatch

Read original story on: The Verge

LG has unveiled a sleekly designed, fully functional smartwatch, powered by the open source webOS. It features a smooth and innovative circular interface that is unlike anything you have seen on smartwatches before. Plus, it also comes with integration with Audi’s new connected cars. Sources report that LG plans to launch this unique smartwatch by early 2016.

Tech And Fashion Need To Work Together

Read original story on: TorrentFreak

Pirated luxury watch faces for smartwatches are now on the watch list of luxury watchmakers, as several high-end brands, including Omega, Tissot, and Certina, have teamed up in an effort to take the unauthorized designs off from the Internet.

While revealing issues in digital design copyrights, this development also signals a missed opportunity for luxury brands to actively work with tech companies that are developing smartwatches. This piracy proves that there’s a demand for luxury brand association in the growing wearable market. And as we spotted in a recent trend report, it’d be a good thing for the fashion and tech industry to work together.

Meet HP’s New Innovative PC Sprout And “Dumb” Smartwatch

Read original story on: Wired

Last week, HP unveiled Sprout, its newest PC offering. It features “HP Illuminator,” a downward-facing camera/scanner/projector combo that allows a user to easily digitalize physical objects and manipulate digital projections on an accompanying touch mat, placed where a keyboard would normally be. Innovatively blending virtual and physical reality, Sprout is set to ship on November 9.

In related news, HP has also launched a new smart-watch that leans heavier on luxury design than smart features. The MB Chronowing, led by fashion designer Michael Bastian, looks fantastic but doesn’t have a touchscreen. Instead, it relies on a black and white LCD for simple email and text notifications, and three chunky side buttons for navigation. HP has partnered with online fashion retailer Gilt to exclusively launch this watch on Nov. 7.

Yo For Free Moto Smartwatches

Motorola has teamed up with Yo to launch a giveaway campaign on the minimalist messaging app. Yesterday 20 new Moto 360 smartwatches were given away gratis to the first 20 users who “Yo’ed” Moto’s account and clicked on the hyperlink embedded in the returned Yo. This is not the first time a major brand has experimented with Yo, but it did move beyond mere notifications and properly utilized some of Yo’s new features. As the user size of Yo keeps growing, more brands can be expected to follow their audience and try out this new platform.

Messaging Apps Coming to Smartwatches

The vastly popular messaging app Whatsapp just released a beta update that offers support for Android Wear, extending its functionality beyond just receiving notifications on the smartwatch OS. New features introduced include stacked notification, complete preview of received messages and, most importantly, the ability to send and reply messages via voice-to-text dictation. By releasing this update, the Facebook-owned company becomes a pioneer in exploring messaging apps on wearable platforms, and more messaging apps can be expected to follow suit.

Why HP’s New Smartwatch Is Good-looking But Problematic

HP has offered a sneak peek of its new smartwatch, and it actually looks pretty good. Following the current trend of marrying tech with fashion, this new gear, set for release later this fall, is born out of a collaborative effort of HP, fashion designer Michael Bastian, and digital retailer Gilt.

Looking past its well-designed good looks and charm, however, the fact that HP is self-developing a third-party companion app compatible with both iOS and Android to control the smartwatch seems potentially problematic. Primarily positioned as a wearable extension for easier access to notifications, a smartwatch may function best when it is seamlessly incorporated as a native part of the operating system. After all, trying to please everyone usually just ends up alienating everyone.

Myriam Joire: A Brief History of The Smartwatch

Myriam Joire, the well-known tech writer and Chief Evangelist for Pebble, took the stage at last week’s Wearable Tech Expo in NYC to deliver a fun and opinionated overview of the history of the smartwatch.  Providing a fascinating historical perspective, she started with the world’s first wristwatch— made in Switzerland by Patek Philippe in 1868 as a novel piece of jewelry.  At the time the pocket watch was king, and the idea of a timepiece on your wrist struck most as preposterous— especially as a commercially viable product.

Joire’s journey took the audience through the first LED watches in the 1970’s, followed by calculator watches and PDAs until we finally arrive at today’s watches (and not surprisingly Pebble’s latest product).  The key takeaway was that the next two years in the industry will continue to meet battery life and display challenges.  Users are starting to crave the full color displays they’re used to with smartphones, but delivering that quality in a wristwatch takes significant battery power.

In the near future, Joire expects voice recognition to become integral to smart watches since the form factor makes typing less than ideal.  She also voiced enthusiasm for predictive capabilities in smartwatch computing if we proactively give our data away (“We need to start to trust our technology”), as well as the proliferation of device pairing between smartphones and smartwatches.

Looking off into the distant future, Joire also wasn’t afraid to endorse what she sees coming next: device implants that actually are actually integrated into our bodies. “That counts as wearable!” she concluded.