My boss is the ultimate tech geek. He always has the latest Android devices, his house is voice automated and he reuses his old phones to build in-home surveillance systems. It might sound unusual, but I’ve even become accustom to him looking at his watch whenever I’m talking to him. Now one might think he is trying to send me a social cue that he needs to leave soon, but I know he is checking the constant influx of notifications he is receiving. He believes the smart watch has improved his life because he doesn’t need to take out his phone to view notifications and even slips into a temporary depression when his battery dies. But if you ask me, I think ordinary moments are wasted for every meaningless notification he receives.
I don’t need to explain the screen-in-face phenomenon we all suffer from. Smart watches were supposed to be the solution so we could get back in touch with reality and focus more on in-person connections. But the result is the same amount of notifications made even easier to see more often. The ongoing problem is not smart watches, it’s the amount of meaningless notifications we receive every minute of every day.
When a notification is pushed to users without any smart data to make the message relevant to the user, I call it “notification pollution”. Meaningful notifications help users reach their aspirations when the information needed is most relevant. Timing is everything and context reigns supreme, particularly when it comes to wearables.
Recently we won a wearables contest in Miami powered by Google, then presented our work on a global stage in Poland. Our team’s winning idea was fitness clothes that tell you how to correct your form in real time using a natural feedback language. When building the feedback language, we were mindful as to how the wearable would communicate the correct form back to the user, as that is the most critical part of an effective workout.
Because exercising is a very personal ritual and can also make the user feel self conscious, especially if someone nearby is hearing a loud BEEP whenever their form is incorrect, we decided to use haptic feedback that mimics a trainer’s touch to correct users and positive audio and visual cues when a goal is met. We deliberately chose not to use an app to give users feedback because it is too intrusive and distracting during a workout. Instead, we wanted users to be focused on themselves and their form so they could achieve the best results possible.
In the future, as retail brands need focus on helping users reach their aspirations it is critical that wearables are designed with a holistic perspective that not only includes the users context, but also factors that could influence their emotional state. Our goal is to create smarter technology to deliver meaningful experiences and notifications for users reach their goals in life. Users will thank you for it by continuing to be loyal customers, wherever they go.
Whatever they wear.