Keep it simple, of course, and fashionable, and with much longer battery life, and with a small enough number of use cases so that it can remain...simple. Those are tall orders to fill -- especially in a world in which so many consumers have abandoned wearing watches of any sort. The smart watch needs to be really compelling to give a consumer a reason to again start wearing something on his or her wrist.
I agree with slipoff about reading comments from people who have never tried a smartwatch. I have the original Pebble and I find it invaluable. I don't know where the assertion comes from about one day battery life. I was promised 7 days to recharge and I get just about 8 days. The watch has an easy to use interface and works quite well with my phone. I was concerned about phone battery drain having my bluetooth on all the time. I have not noticed an exceptional battery drain but I recharge my phone every night anyway. As for invisible well it pretty much is for me. I would wear a watch anyway and having a much more functional one has been great. I get up to date info on my digital life. I can respond to emergency stiuations without having to have my phone in my hand all the time and it lets me ignore the stuff that can be ignored. My job consist of helping people with problems. That takes me out of my office often. My primary means of communications is SMS, email or phone calls. Phone calls can be too immediate depending on the situation, I'm busy with someone else, I need time to think of an answer or my hands are full. SMS needs a reply fairly quickly but allows consideration time for correct answer, sheduling issues etc. An email allows for considered reply and more detailed information exchange it also indicates some level of planning on the other persons part. My Pebble lets me be in control of my digital life, who's trying to communicate with me. How they are communcating gives me a sense of their urgency. I always answer the bosses phone calls no matter what I'm doing but sales persons might not even get a email response. I'm in control partly because of my Pebble.
I'm surprised how many people talking about Smartwatches don't actually have one. Is that because there's little perceived value in them? Seems likely.
I have a smartwatch. I use it for two reasons:
* Quick notification of events
* Allows me to bypass the lockscreen on my phone when it's close to my watch
Both reasons are increased efficiency. I don't have to dig into my pocket, unlock my phone, and then click and swipe through the OS for each text or email. I can stay more focused on my work _and_ get critical notifications. Another feature is I can send a call to Voicemail by simply pushing a button on my watch.
Most of the smartwatches are too ugly IMO. This includes the pebble watch. I chose the Metwatch because it looks decent, has a "longish" battery life, and does what I need with few extras. It's moderately water resistant, which I have "tested".
I don't like the charging clip. Even charging your watch every 5 days is a pain. The BT connection to my phone isn't 100% reliable and I have to reconnect it every now and then; usually after charging. I kinda think this is the phones fault in some cases, and the watch's fault in others.
I have been using BTUnlocker or Tasker to keep my lock screen at bay when the watch has BT "link" to my phone. This is probably my favorite "feature", although it's not rock solid as indicated earlier. My watch also lets me know if I've run off without my phone. That's nice, too.
I'm not affiliated with Metawatch or either app mentioned above in any way. Even for its shortcomings I still think it's one of the best options out there. Not many seem to know about it.
I have lots of "early adopter" friends, and none of them has a smartwatch; even after seeing mine. I don't see many reasons for smartwatches to go mainstream yet - sorry.
I enjoy reading about wearable technology from people who have not actually used one. I have owned a CECT W968 model (google W968) for over five years--- long before the big names showed up at CES. It cost me under $100 via an internet purchase from China. It is full metal with a color display and a battery that lasts between 12 hours or two weeks depending upon use. I carry an extra coin size battery in my pocket if needed. My "watch" has every feature you can find in smart phone except downloadable apps- GSM sim card, still camera, video camera, MP3 music player, SMS text, web browser, calendar, to-do, ebook reader, bluetooth, speakerphone, address book, USB port for flash drive interface to PC, etc. It also looks good! My CECT W968 is but one of many many styles so fashion is not limited by choices. The only limitation for me is that the color display could be brighter in daylight. My advice is don't pay attention to critical comments until you try one on.
What if smartwatches were modular somehow? Or, if users could choose the function of their watches easily customize them to have GPS, phone notifications, or a heartrate monitor? I think wearables and smartwatches will only take off if they have an easily understood, dedicated task.
I don't own a smart phone, so I'm not in the demographic that needs one on his wrist but as a hiker I do see a market for GPS watches. Right now they are still too expensive. There may be other markets for specialty watches.
96% of the consumers here in Germany think that wearable devices are "technical knickknack that they don't need". This is the result of an opinion poll that I have seen some days ago in a computer magazine. So I think, it is still a long way to go for the manufacturers of wearables. But on the other hand, the situation was not much better when the first mobile phones came on the market.
These applications are nice to have - but only if delivered for a relatively low price.
There is also a specific problem with all those applications - the user's life starts to depend on it as soon as you delver such device. Then the "game rules" change drastically. It's not just a gadget any more that you throw away into rubbish bin if it works dissatisfactory. Now it is a safety of life issue. So this means that it better won't fail (or it must fail gracefully), you better tell the user clearly when the device is able to help and when it is not. Because as soon as somebody will die - due to device failure, improper use of the device, unforced circumstances (like you discover that some materials may render your device sensors unusable, and by the way - it's not you who made them). You will be in the court and you will have to defend your self. You need a good insurance for that kind of devices. Plus you need an extra good attention while designing (perhaps some redundancy) and testing of the device. Maybe even some certification will be required. The building components may also need some certification depending on the application.
So this sounds like lots of changes from the mainstream horizontal platform and probably it would increase the device size and price a few times comparing to today's devices.
Yes the first feature of the watch is that it must be simple , just wear it. Other features like customization are nice to have and must be user friendly. It must never hang. The interfaces must be very very simple and any software upgrade must be easier to do.