product & design

Use cases for wearables

Daniele is the local horologist at Novoda. GDE for wearable technologies and IoT, he likes to experiment with the whole Android ecosystem, from AOSP to Google Cast and Android TV.

Android Wear 2.0 is focused on bringing standalone apps on smartwatches, but that does not invalidate the key principles that should be followed when designing wearable applications: glanceability and micro user interactions.

Glanceability is still the key when presenting data to the user in the small screen of a smartwatch. The user needs to be able to consume the key information at a glance.
At the same time, a standalone Wear version of a phone app shouldn't necessarily include all the functions and controls of the main handheld app.
Wearable applications should focus on a reduced set of actions with minimal user interaction and frustration-proof controls. Remember that the user's phone is the place for complex and long interactions.

With this in mind, we at Novoda did a small exercise: we thought about how different categories of applications could benefit from a wearable version, allowing users to access some of the main features directly from the wrist.
Here's the list, divided into different app categories:

Event venue

  • Event ticket reminder
  • Quick access to the venue with event ticket validation showing a barcode/QR code on the watch screen or directly with NFC
  • Membership validation

Real estate agency

  • Location-based notifications for nearby listing matching pre-set criteria
  • Quick details of a viewing
  • Quick list of questions to be asked when viewing a place

Hotel / accommodation

  • Quick check-in showing a barcode/QR code or with NFC
  • Room unlock with NFC
  • Room service (order towels, breakfast, etc) from the wrist

Restaurant / coffee

  • Loyalty program: automatically recognised and favourite order preselected, more efficient and more personal
  • In case of a queue: scan a code displayed on the display when placing the order and receive a notification on the watch later, when the order is ready

Vending machine company

  • Supplies refill alert: a notification to the technician when some of the items need to be refilled. Integration with current machines using an ad-hoc IoT solution

Warehouses management / cleaning

  • After supervisors create the workflow plan, the workers will have a todo list directly available on the wrist
  • Time tracking app: the worker can manually check-in or check-out or with a location-based app it will be easy to automatically keep track of the time

Online newspaper / magazine

  • Using text-to-speech while on the move to listen to articles
  • The smartwatch will show the selected articles playlist and playback controls
  • Use of voice commands to search for an article by topic or keywords

Shopping centre

  • Quick shopping list
  • Indoor user location with special offers displayed on watch

Smart home

  • Quickly control appliances
  • Track indoor user location

More generic use cases

  • Share data using motion-based actions, for example handshake trigger at conferences
  • Fitness tracking with activity detection
  • Extension of other devices UI
  • Remote control for a bigger screen

This is just a small example of how existing apps could benefit from having a wearable version.
Do you have any idea for other interesting wearable use cases? Let me know at @danybony_ on Twitter.

A special thanks to Qi Qu for the amazing mockups!

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