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Ex-Apple designer explains why it’s just a matter of time for the iWatch

According to one of the original interface designers at Apple(s AAPL) the question of his former company creating an iWatch is “when” not “if.” In a long and detailed post on his personal blog this week, interface designer Bruce Tognazzini laid out his case for it. He’s no longer with Apple, but as an early employee he seems to have a good sense of how Apple designers think, and he sees numerous possibilities for such a device and how it might work with Apple’s current products.

“The iWatch will fill a gaping hole in the Apple ecosystem,” he wrote on his Ask Tog blog. “It will facilitate and coordinate not only the activities of all the other computers and devices we use, but a wide array of devices to come. Like other breakthrough Apple products, its value will be underestimated at launch, then grow to have a profound impact on our lives and Apple’s fortunes.”

There are already smart watches out there for early adopters. But Apple always goes for the mainstream. The case Tognazzini makes is that for all the apparent drawbacks to getting regular people to wear and use a smart watch, Apple already holds the answers. For example:

  • No one wants to recharge a watch: Apple has a patent on a wireless recharging method.
  • Clunkiness can be solved with another patented method Apple has for curved glass displays.
  • And thanks to Siri, there’s no need for excess buttons to scroll through menus on a small screen.

He also has some very interesting ideas regarding how Apple could use its own iWatch: as a way to remove the need for passwords when using other Apple devices, like a Mac or an iPhone; to make mobile payments possible with an NFC chip-equipped iWatch; to improve its maps with altitude and pressure information sensed on the watch; and as a method of crowdsourcing more accurate weather information.

That’s just a taste; there’s much more and you should read his whole post. As Tognazzini points out, he doesn’t have any insider information and has no idea when Apple could be ready with such a device. But his perspective is smart and while many others are waiting with bated breath for a new television to show Apple’s still got some innovation up its sleeve, Tognazzini’s thought very far ahead of how Apple could make the smartwatch one of its most revolutionary devices yet.

13 Responses to “Ex-Apple designer explains why it’s just a matter of time for the iWatch”

  1. How much is Apple going to charge for the sure to be specialized cable to charge the device. Maybe $50 bucks like the rest of their products just to hook up a USB or $5 Hdmi cable.

  2. I truly hope so and wish for it. I don’t want to increase the issue of creating more consumption monsters but I personally like that because it’s time to stop paying hundreds of dollars for “brand” watches while we can have digital, more functional, and more than just a clock for less than 100 or 50 dollar.

    Another interesting topic!

    • xtoddrick

      Except that the Pebble is a cra-plastic design with what looks to be a too small display. Hopefully Apple will make theirs from metal and glass with an excellent display. Also I hope it doesn’t have Siri as we don’t need more people yaking in public. I like the idea of the Pebble but not their execution of that idea.

  3. They wouldn’t even need NFC. Bluetooth has encryption and features that could handle NFC like transactions. Not only that but BTLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) would be ideal for handling small bits of data between your iDevice and iWatch.

    As for security Tog forgot about Authentec. Imagine a watch with biometrics built into the curved display. You press your finger on the screen and it unlocks not only the watch but the phone for a user selectable amount of minutes.

    Nice thing about BTLE is that it’s smart enough to switch roles. Meaning that it’s not a Master/Slave configuration. Modern BT means that an iWatch can be the Master or the Slave (they actually do not use this terminology but the end result is the same)

    There is so much potential here. I feel for Pebble and others because once the big boys jump into the fray it’s going to be difficult for the smaller players.

    • Yeah I completely agree on that.. Bluetooth still remains an unexplored area for the most part. There are tremendous possibilities in bluetooth area..Apple can very well utilise this make it much more worthwhile than it already is with applications in file sharing (in non-iPhone handhelds) and cross device synchronisation (e.g. connecting your iPhone in your car dock). Bluetooth has continued to remain an unexploited area. Apple has good a chance to come up with an elegant solution through this to match up with NFC..
      Apple could use NFC but they wud certainly not because having NFC applications would mean infringing multiple patents that involve companies like Nokia, motorola and some other handset makers.
      They wud never get into an open hanset alliance with these other companies.