I was sitting in a very nice ocean side restaurant with my friend Andrew. The sun was blazing overhead, a cool onshore breeze was buffeting the outdoor curtains and it was high noon. As soon as we sat down, my Android smartwatch buzzed on my wrist with a message:
“Hi Joe, I see you are sitting at lunch. Please be careful to avoid the swordfish as there are reports of unusually high levels of mercury in the species. And from what I can tell from my readings, you are almost at your limit.”
I let Andrew know about the message and he quickly looked at his Apple Watch. It glared back at him with nothing to say.
We ordered a couple of cocktails; I ordered a double Tito’s and soda and Andrew went for his standard, Makers on the rocks. Half way through the drink, my Android smartwatch buzzed me again:
“Hey party boy, your BAC is at 0.04 and if history tells me anything, you and your friend should consider moderation; or you should seek alternate transportation. Ha…just kidding; what time would you like your Uber to arrive?
And btw, I have already de-activated the starting mechanism on your Tesla”
I let Andrew know about the messages and he quickly looked at his Apple Watch. It glared back at him with still nothing to say.
As we finished our lunch, my watch buzzed me again:
“Hey Joey, you are way below the daily requirement of Vitamin D, your cholesterol level just pinned my meter, your blood sugar level would make a diabetic blush and your lazy ass has been sitting all day. I didn’t call the Uber car because in my estimation, you need to put down the vodka, stop eating cheese snacks and take a nice walk home on this beautiful sunny day.”
Ok, so this is not a true story. But it should be. And in my estimation…it will be soon. The true story about the LG G Watch R is not as exciting.
Here is what is cool.
It looks cool. It looks like a watch. It is why I ordered it. It is round, black, stainless and water resistant (down to three feet). It has a very cool looking analog dial display that can be configured to a myriad of different faces and it tells time really well (when it’s not plugged into a wall). It receives and sends text messages, listens to me when I say “ok google”, gives me notifications of phone calls, and skype messages. Put simply, almost anything that happens on my phone is now a notification or some sort of buzz on my wrist.
Here is what is not cool
But when I get the notification and I slide it…the watch tells me to “Go check out your phone.”
Ok… so let me explain why this is not cool. Like most people in the world, I am a guy who is addicted to his phone. I check it constantly. It is a bad habit. Even when I know there is nothing new there, I pick it up, click it on and gently glide my finger across its smooth gorilla glass window making my Android apps dance and come to life. I love my Android phone so much that it annoys my wife and my kids. It bothers my workmates as I am constantly distracted by obsessively picking it up during important conversations and meetings.
So what’s wrong with the watch? Essentially…it doesn’t really do or say anything other than:
“Hey loser! Something happened on your phone, why don’t you go pick it up?”
The LG G Watch R is a constant reminder of my smartphone addiction. And when I think about it, do I need my wrist to buzz in order to further cement the Pavlovian twitch I have developed over the past 5 years? If I am going to let another device become an active participant in the un-natural relationship I have with my phone, it needs to bring something more to the party. If a smartwatch is going to be allowed to touch my skin all day, then it better be able to do things my phone can’t do…or it is not invited.
The customer experience I seek is the one described at the beginning of this blog. The smartwatch I will wear and will be impressed by will be more than an extension of my phone. It will to add value to my life by informing my experiences with meaningful data which makes my life better. Until that day comes (and it’s not far off), I’ll stick with my stainless steel, 300 meter waterproof, shock resistant, solar powered dive watch that glows in the dark.
But when that day comes, I will be ecstatic…as I happen to work for a company that designs user experiences that inspire customers and create special customer moments on mobile devices. And when we can begin to incorporate bio-feedback and bio-sensors into our customer experience design in order to improve the lives of customers…that’s cool.