Wearables don’t need to be screens.

I think we’re missing the point of wearables. The future of smart devices placed around the body isn’t about creating more screens, but about creating more data points which can connect to other screens.

This example of Dominos Android Watch ordering app is completely wrong. Why would you order a pizza on your watch when you have a larger screen device which makes this so much easier sat in your pocket?

I believe two principles are worth bearing in mind for small screen devices and wearables:

  1. Small screens are for glancing at and simple interactions – prompts of bitesized information (how fast you’re running, your next meeting, your proximity to a friend) and basic actions prompted by this (arrange to meet that nearby friend, pick up the pace a little, tell your team you’re going to be late for the meeting). Fingers are big. Design for that.
  2. Wearables don’t need a screen – BLE and other technologies mean we can connect to more appropriate screens for interaction tasks. Stand next to a bus-stop paired with your wearable to find the upcoming bus on a 6-sheet sized screen, rather than peering into a tiny screen on your wrist. Connectivity exists. Design for that.

Wearables are better placed to capture and connect than create more interfaces.

NFC payment technology like ApplePay/Oyster provides us with proximity authentication techniques – lean on a wall, and you can be connected to that wall. Turn the wall into a screen, and that’s a wall sized screen to order your pizza on.

Let’s put screens into things which are best to be screens, and identification and sensor technology into the things which are best to be sensors – then connect up the two to allow best-fit interfaces for the task at hand, rather than squeezing a complex task into the palm of your hand.