I want you to steal my ideas.
I’ve said it before, and nothing has changed. Ideas are important, but they aren’t proprietary. I want these things to exist, so hopefully with this post I can inspire someone to make them, even if that person is me.
The iWatch (or whatever it is going to be called) is announced this week, and that’s exciting for entrepreneurs and developers for a lot of reasons. The ideas I present below are sort of like predictions; because I don’t know the features of the watch, I’m making a lot of assumptions.
As always, the ideas presented below are in no way my property. Think of them as money left on the sidewalk. In an envelope labeled “take me!”. The only thing I ask is that you contact me by emailing me or reach out to me on Twitter (@JCutrell).
1. Viral Crowdsourced Fashion
Very simple: allow people to make watch faces and share them. Make them available like a YouTube video. This idea is as old as desktop backgrounds, but it has a brand new twist: fashion.
Why I think it will work: Fashion is obviously a part of our lives. However, technology and fashion have not fused completely yet. The only company truly bridging the gap between personal technology and fashion is – you guessed it – Apple. Apple’s products provide social status and expression of “personality.” The iWatch will have own a large part of this market, and will mark the true fusion of technology and fashion.
Bonus points: Make the faces sellable and take a small commission. (Not sure how this would work with in-app purchases, but that’s where you can get creative, right?)
2. Access-oriented Applications
Everyone is talking about the mobile payment industry as a game changer for the iWatch, but let’s back up for a second and talk about the fundamental difference in payment from your watch versus from your wallet.
Wallets are no more “mobile” than watches. The cognitive change the iWatch introduces is a new sense of access. And along with that comes a new category in application development that hasn’t really taken off with mobile phones.
This is my personal theory, but I think the cause for the failure of mobile device access applications (case in point, Passbook) is at least partially due to the disconnect from the phone as directly connected to you at all times. With a wallet, it works partially because we were born into it (our parents did it), and also simply because we had the previous understanding of carrying cash.
With a watch, we have a newfound freedom to directly identify the watch with the wearer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the payment apps didn’t eventually take bio signs into account for fraud protection.
For these and many other reasons, it’s time to take these apps a step further. It’s time to start using the bio-connectedness that these devices will provide us with to grant access to restricted places requiring identity. This goes from more secure login services and better/more accurate TSA screenings, to check-ins and social physical presence applications.
3. Quantification, Meet The Informed Self
The iWatch will most likely mainstream the quantified self movement. We’ve seen this getting a large part of the media attention.
But for those getting into the game now, it’s time to start thinking past our current place in the quantified movement, and towards the next step. I’m making a prediction: that next step will be to make sense of the data.
Anyone who has worked with infographics for long will tell you that the single most important part of their job is finding and choosing the best metrics and clearest visualizations of those metrics. There is some science to this, but there’s also some gut.
What does this mean? It means that our quantifications don’t really provide us with anything other than raw data, regardless of how pretty it is. We need to take this raw data and turn it into something meaningful. Look at strong correlations, and suggest potential causation. Compare seemingly unrelated things, like lines of code versus number of steps walked per day. Give users a framework for making decisions, and then comes the fun part: using big data to come to conclusions about trending correlations in day-to-day behaviors of the population.
But the first step is to take the quantifiable numbers and show some kind of derived qualitative information.
4. The ultimate timer
Seriously, we’re still making time tracking applications? Yes. Because all of them suck. Well, maybe they don’t suck, but I haven’t found one that is natural. I end up watching a clock. Or my watch.
A unique opportunity for productivity apps related to time: use the watch paradigm. This one seems obvious, but whoever wins this one will win big.
I’m thinking something like setting up a few behaviors that the watch can sense and infer with, but then make it very simple – tap, swipe to client, tap again to start timer, tap again to stop timer. On my watch, not my phone. Certainly not on my computer. I use my computer to create invoices. I use my timekeeper to time things.
The iWatch presents a lot more opportunities than I’ve even discussed here. I’d love to hear what you think about these ideas, and I’d love for you to share yours with me. Or, by all means, feel free to take mine and build it.
Hit me on twitter (@jcutrell) if you want to continue this conversation.