It Better Stands on Its Own

There is much speculation about an Apple wearable thing that might come up at the Apple event scheduled on September 9. Here is some speculation of my own.

There is one thing I’m pretty sure it won’t be: it won’t be an add-on device for an iPhone. Oh, I’m sure it’ll do cool tricks if you do happen to have an iPhone around, but if you can’t use the thing without an iPhone then it’s not a new product category, it’s just a new fancy iPhone accessory.

In other word, the main features must be self-contained within the device.

Displaying iOS notifications, while interesting, relegates the device to an accessory, so it can’t be the main feature. Same thing for a Siri button or a wirst-phone feature that’d use your iPhone as a conduit to the Internet.

So, if the main features have to stand on their own, here are a few novel possibilities based on what we more or less know Apple is working on these days:

  1. A key to unlocking and switching on or off things nearby remotely, something that replaces your passwords and credentials when you’re in front of another device. A keychain of some sort.

  2. As an extension to the above, a payment device that’d replace a debit or credit card but that is less ackward to wave around than a phone. Perhaps it could also let you give virtual money to someone nearby. A wallet of some sort.

  3. A health monitor capable recording data from various sensors (some internal, some external) letting you know when something is anormal and giving some information to first responders in case of an emergency acting like a medical alert bracelet, but with much more data on it.

Note that none of these features requires internet connectivity to work. The wearable device only needs to talk with other devices which are close to you.

Other (secondary) features that’d be technically possible but that are either less impressive or not standalone:

On thing I don’t expect is a full phone with cellular connectivity that doesn’t need to rely on a separate device (iPhone). It’s cool, in theory. Also it looks like Samsung just announced one (still no release date though), so it does not seem too far-fetched. But oh the poor battery!

If the thing only does Bluetooth LE — and perhaps NFC as some rumors seems to point to — radio signals aren’t going to eat the battery too fast. That’s all that’s needed for the features I mentioned above. That’s all you need to build a new product category.

  • © 2003–2017 Michel Fortin.