The iWatch will debut on Tuesday, September 9th. As tech enthusiasts salivate over the possibility that the iWatch could usher in cashless payments at stores, and serve as a universal remote for home automation devices, unlocking doors, activating smart lighting systems, and turning on tv’s, they’ve lost sight of the one function we know the iWatch will be designed for: fitness!
Most smart-watches are poor fitness devices. They use pedometers that don’t accurately measure steps and heart rate monitors that loose contact with the skin or don’t work if your moving!
There are better ways to measure running distance and better ways to measure heart-rate. Fitness bands fail because they are trying to find one approach and one place on the body to measure disparate fitness tasks. The alternative has always been to strap ungainly wires to every part of the body- and strangely this is precisely what we believe Apple will propose. Apple will indeed propose strapping sensors to every part of your body! This won’t be as unpleasant or ugly as it may sound. We believe that developments in tech and fashion have made it possible for wearable fitness devices to measure your exercise activities without being cumbersome, inconvenient or unattractive. The iWatch will serve simply as a relay device that collects data and communicates with other wearables specifically designed for each fitness task.
The best examples of our prediction are ironically found in non-Apple products. Intel recently announced a smart-shirt. According to the New York Times, “The shirt comes with conductive fibers that can track your heart rate and will be able to deliver information to a smartphone.” Ralph Lauren has similarly developed smart compression tops. They have “conductive threads that allow it to sense breathing and heart rate” (http://www.fastcodesign.com/3034808/can-ralph-lauren-take-smart-clothes-mainstream#1).
We imagine that Nike could develop sneakers with simple pressure sensors that measure “actual” steps and actual distance travelled. We imagine Nike running shoes that prevent shin splints and injuries by telling your iWatch when runners are accumulating too much pressure on their feet.
Apple may not be going into fashion as a manufacturer but we believe Apple wants to usher in the era of smart wearable clothing, and position the iWatch as the defacto communications hub. Imagine trendy weightlifting gloves that communicate via bluetooth, how much weight you’re lifting.
The applications for an iWatch that communicates with smart clothes goes beyond fitness. We imagine that EXISTING products like the Mimo baby romper, which measures breathing, body temperature and sleep patterns in toddlers while relaying that information via Bluetooth, could work with the iWatch in the future.
What we have come to believe is that the most powerful iWatch imaginable isn’t necessarily packed with sensors. It is in reality a rather simple communications device that speaks to home automation devices, store checkout counters through NFC or IBeacon and fitness wearables. The beauty of Apple’s device will be that any developer with virtually any product will be able to craft an interface that allows users to control a device with the iWatch. Smart stoves, smart clothes, smart guns, and smart cars alike will tap into the iWatch as a universal remote.