Ask DN: My UX-driven iWatch thoughts … what are yours?

8 years ago from , Freelance UX Designer

I've had a vision for a while of what a great wrist-mounted device would be, and I really hope it's what Apple has come up with. What are your dreams for tomorrow's announcement?

A band — not a watch — with a landscape-oriented screen on the inside of the wrist. The orientation is perfect — it matches the dimensions of existing iOS notifications, so all alerts can be sent to it without any redesign needed. The long lines that a horizontal display allow are key: a square or circle display requires many more line breaks and so provides much less information density than a landscape display.

The inside of the wrist is great for notifications because it's private — with a standard watch the person next to you sees the sext from your husband before you do.

Now do me a favor and look at the inside of your wrist as if you're reading said sext. I find it an incredibly natural motion and I think you will to. Reading the outside of your wrist takes far more twisting and tension than reading the inside.

The inside of your wrist is also visible while you're on your phone or device. Meaning you can still get value from it while you're playing Angry Birds, something that's impossible with a traditional watch design.

There are issues with this design for sure — the biggest I see is the discomfort of a chunky band on the inside of your wrist while typing. Maybe it's super low profile, maybe it's really easy to twist it around so the screen is on the top of your wrist.

But I think the inside of the wrist is compelling enough to warrant a serious look.

What do you think?


  • Toby KellerToby Keller, 8 years ago

    This would actually make a lot of sense if you put it together with the bio-sensor suite that's rumored to be part of the iWatch.

    Samsung has a bio-sensor watch, but it requires bulk on both top (watch face) and bottom (sensor array). Sensors work better on the inside of the wrist, and if that's where you put the display, the whole thing can be consolidated.

    This would also free up the entire public-facing side of your wrist to be a 100% customizable blank canvas, and Apple's recent fashion-industry hires could be working on widgets for it.

    2 points
  • Peter MainPeter Main, 8 years ago

    At this point i'm actually wondering if this thing needs a screen at all?

    1 point
  • Brent RiddellBrent Riddell, 8 years ago

    The Razer Nabu smartband does just that!


    1 point
  • Tammer IbrahimTammer Ibrahim, 8 years ago

    Interesting concept. Although I'm more interested in what the wearable does for me in the real world - I've already got enough screens.

    I'm sure fitness will play a part in the real mccoy but I'm not the type to quantify everything. The killer UX for me would be obsoleting passwords. (not my idea, but I forget which blogger posed it as a possibility). The idea is you'd have to punch a code or touchID once every time you clasp it/put it on. After that, your phone, mac, car, house, etc. all get an auth token when you try to use them. password management takes care of the rest.

    writing this now though, I doubt it'll happen. the amount of foot-traffic you'd have going to the genius bar due to forgotten passwords would discourage iPhone 6 buyers.

    1 point
    • Drew Beck, 8 years ago

      Very interesting idea. If it required Touch ID I could see it working.

      "What it does for me" is for sure the big question. I do think that for a lot of folks even just a remote notification screen would bring a lot of value. I'm thinking primarily of folks who keep their phones in their bags (women! much, most, women's clothing doesn't include reasonable pockets). Being able to stay in sync with what's happening with your phone without having to dig it out of your bag all the time is a legit use case for many.

      An always-accessible screen opens up some new use cases, too. One of the big issues with home automation these days is that nobody wants to have to pull their phone out to turn on a light — but an always-available wearable can surface the right switch whenever you're near a light.

      0 points
    • Toby KellerToby Keller, 8 years ago

      Depending on the sophistication of the bio-sensors, you may not even have to use Touch ID. That would be really cool, and likely more secure than Touch ID, since it could use multiple data points.

      1 point
  • Adam Storr, 8 years ago (edited 8 years ago )

    I think the inner-wrist idea is really interesting. I've always found it more comfortable to wear my watch upside down... but typically don't because it's more of a form-over-function item for me.

    1 point
  • Drew Beck, 8 years ago


    0 points
  • Drew Beck, 8 years ago (edited 8 years ago )

    The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that (what we think of as) women's experience is going to drive a lot of the "iWatch" concept. 1: phone is in your bag a lot, so second screen is big, and 2: needs to be a true fashion piece.

    For the second point, I'm thinking it's going to be a modular system that allows you to buy a bunch of different pieces that the tech module can snap into. Different colors and looks for different outfits and occasions. This is why Apple has hired so many fashion industry folks: they're going to need to create legit fashionable pieces year in and year out.

    Think about the Moto 360 from a fashion perspective: while it could work for (what we think of as) men's fashion (big, one style for all outfits and occasions) it's a total non-starter for women's fashion (too big! only one style!).

    Also, it would make sense at some point for other companies to be making the style part, too — I'm not sure this could truly take off as a fashion item unless it was responsive to many trends and style niches.

    0 points
  • Johannes IppenJohannes Ippen, 8 years ago

    This is my guess for tonight: https://twitter.com/presskind/status/509280836517376002

    0 points