The Future of Wearables: Emotions, Tech and Intelligent Mobile Apps

wearables podcast with Boisy Pitre

We’re excited to co-sponsor The Future of Wearables podcast – a new interview series hosted by Heather Schlegel, a futurist. Each week Schlegel will interview mobile industry thought leaders and wearable makers for a one-hour discussion on the future of wearables for work, entertainment, communication, learning, health – and more. If you haven’t already subscribed, sign up for The Future of Wearables podcast to get the latest episode in your inbox. Read on for this week’s episode, and our take aways.

The Emotional Side of Technology & Intelligent Mobile Apps

The second Future of Wearables episode features Boisy Pitre, Mobile Visionary at Affectiva. He is a computer scientist, inventor, author, and professional software developer with 20+ years of experience. Using optical sensors, Affectiva technology can map people’s facial expressions to “read” their emotions, unobtrusively and at scale. Affectiva’s Affdex facial tracking is used to generate emotional insights for businesses and brands.

LISTEN TO EPISODE 2

During the podcast, Pitre shares what he sees for the future of small wearables like the Apple Watch, saying farewell to the keyboard as an input device, and the importance of anonymizing wearables data.

“Computers have gradually gone from big, huge institutions to on our desk, in our homes – to in our pockets. And now they’re finally about to really be used by a lot of people on our bodies. That integration is going to be more and more personal. We’re getting to what I call a truly personal computer.”
– Boisy Pitre

The Sourcebits Take

Based on Boisy Pitre’s comments during his Future of Wearables podcast interview, here are some tips from the Sourcebits team when it comes to the design and development of mobile apps for wearable devices.

Consider Input Methods Beyond a Keyboard

The QWERTY keyboard has been integral to human-machine interaction for more than 130 years. But as devices such as wearables get smaller and smaller, a keyboard becomes an impractical input method. Voice and gestures offer alternative inputs that might improve the user experience.

Make Most Interactions Passive

An exceptional wearable app creates a magical experience by collecting data passively in the background. Wearables can make technology unobtrusive, like tracking the number of steps you’ve taken or monitoring your heart beat. (But as we covered in Eve Maler on Trust Frameworks, Data Ownership, remember to convey the value of this data and protect privacy.)

Carefully Determine What Data to Collect Actively

When a user must input data, it should be designed as a transaction. What does the data cost the user – in time, effort and disruption – and what does the app provide in return. For example, inputting weight might require stepping on a scale and then entering the data – but the user knows he/she will get a more accurate estimate of calories burned by sharing that information.

Provide Visual, Audio and/or Haptic Cues

The physical constraints of wearable devices offer brands the opportunity to use a richer visual and sensory language to quickly communicate ideas. Design with 2-way communication in mind. How will the app “talk back” to the user to convey success, to signal a change, to guide them through a process? A subtle pulse, a bouncing icon, a feeling of “pressing” – these are just a few examples of the wide library of cues available in UI/UX design. Explore, test, and use them wisely.

Let’s Talk Wearable Apps

If you’re thinking about entering the wearable tech market or have an existing app that you’d like to reimagine for the Apple Watch, smart glasses or other devices – you’ve come to the right place.

TALK TO US

Piotr Gajos, Chief Innovation Officer

Piotr is Sourcebits Chief Innovation Officer. A 2006 Apple Design Award winner, Piotr draws much of his inspiration from film and music, and focuses on leading our Innovation Strategy Workshops, generating new ideas for Sourcebits, and consulting on projects.