Hello. My name is Layton, and I have a problem.
I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on my Apple addiction, money that otherwise would have gone to feeding and clothing my family. It is not unusual for me to wake up face down in the gutter, waiting in line outside the Apple Store for the next product release. I’m an Apple fanboy. Now that I’ve admitted I have a problem, I beg you for one more fix. I NEED THE WATCH!!!
Since the Apple Watch was announced, I have spent every day scouring the Internet and reading every blog for scraps of new information. “What will it do?” “How will you use it?” “What’s the point?”
These are the types of questions I keep hearing from those closest to me — those most affected by my addiction. Like any addict, I cannot explain the feeling to a non(Apple)user. All I know is that the possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to see how we can apply wearable technology to the meeting and events industry.
The Apple Watch, due in stores in early 2015, is not the first “smartwatch” on the market (“smartwatch” is in quotes because Apple does not call its device a “smartwatch”). Samsung’s Gear, Sony’s SmartWatch 2, Motorola’s Moto 360, Pebble and LG’s G Watch all beat Apple to the punch. Some are even on their second generation, which is huge for any tech product’s development cycle. It’s gearing up to be quite the arm’s race. (Hi, my name is Layton, and I’m addicted to bad puns.)
Where Apple plans to set itself apart is in the level of functionality the apps will offer. Most current smartwatches are seen as an extension of a phone or glorified pedometer, best used for quick display and input rather than a fully functioning mini-computer. Although Apple Watch must be paired with a larger Apple device for connectivity, the goal is for you to be able to leave that clunky iPhone or iPad in your pocket or purse. It is yet to be seen how Apple will deal with the challenges of navigating the teeny, tiny screen. With digital controls in the place of a traditional watch crown, the ability to sense a difference between tap and press, and Apple’s knack for making the new seem familiar, Apple Watch has the potential to be as revolutionary as the original iPod, iPhone or iPad. Do you remember what cell phones looked like before the iPhone?
The key to the success of both Android and Apple watches will come from third-party developers. How will smartwatch app developers bring the format into the meetings and events space? Apple has already struck a deal with Starwood that will allow your Watch to act as your room key. The newly released Apple Pay will provide the ability to securely pay for your stay without fumbling around for your wallet. This is just the tip of the iceberg that has already been announced.
The most likely next phase will adapt conference apps to the Watch. Integrated alerts, social media and maps are no-brainers. The next evolution will take advantage of instant feedback from real attendees. Imagine heat maps of the trade-show floor to show traffic flow to vendor booths, real-time metrics of audience engagement measured by pulse rates, and instant peer-to-peer interactions. (I’m still hoping and waiting for the death of the business card.) Wearable technology can set itself apart from smartphones and tablets because it has the unique opportunity to feel the user’s movements and, conversely, be felt by the user. It will only take one out-of-the-box idea to bring smartwatches from the list of wants to the list of must-haves.
I hope that this has convinced you, the reader, as well as those who receive my credit card statement, that wearable technology is here to stay. Its broad reach will not only affect our daily lives but also change our industry. Now, for the most important question of all … what color should I get?
Are you as excited as Layton? Please share your thoughts about what the Apple Watch and smartwatches, in general, might mean for the meetings and events industry.