//This article originally appeared on Medium.com
We won’t know when it hits us, but we can predict it. There is a lifecycle of every important step forward in technology, science or the likes — and it all begins even before realising the potential of a new gadget or method.
Often, new releases, be them mass products or techniques with limited accesibility, gain market potential only when their creators revisit original concepts and see that, probably, their genuine ideas got somewhere lost along the way of the development process.
And I hope this is the case of smartwatches. I hope the people who built them see their current usability (i.e. smaller, wearable smartphones) as just a required marketing step to more daunting challenges that are expected for the smartwatch. In order to gain traction, a product must indeed acquire customers and first-day adopters regardless of the method.
The smartwatch’s future is not even in the world of personal assistant devices. It cannot surpass current capabilities of smartphones because it is an uphill battle at which it arrives late and would always be trailing. Plus, the resources required to build a new tech product — as it can be seen from any succesful crowdfunding campaigns — have largely decreased to an extent that makes possible for a leap to take place probably every fortnight.
The smartwatch does not need to be an entertainment tool. Its future lies in the ways it could actually improve our lives and not just making them easier. There a lot of tech products on the market that just took what existent products on the market did and did it better. But that’s not the smartwatch’s destiny — it should be the next “zero to one”, as Peter Thiel astutely puts it.
And this does not apply only to the smartwatch — all developers should start seeing that making lives easier does not equal making lives better, and should strive for the latter.
It will take 5 or maybe 10 years before the smartwatch gets where it needs to get. Market opportunities abound, especially in the area of health and fitness. As some have put it, the best medical device on the market today is the iPhone, and that’s the smartwatch’s competition. Actually, leave out the entertainment part altogether and focus on the wellbeing advantages it can bring.