The Wearable Reference Design development kit from ARM® mbed helps startups to speed up product design and development, improving their time to market. Thanks to its modularity, various features can be customised to tailor the device functionality and create families of products. Testing is more realistic with the form factor and quality of a finished product. Evaluate and run field tests without having to carry lab equipment, make critical design decisions or commit to any hardware.
It is completely open-source, any developer can start prototyping right away.
It is undeniably true that wearable devices will shape our future significantly. They are devices that are simple and limited, but they have the potential to have the most useful functions. The "there when you need it - gone when you don't" feature cannot be matched by any other piece of technology, and this will make wearables change our everyday lives.
This device is a visionary concept, so it seemed fitting to reach back to the wishful futuristic visions of the past for inspiration. It needs to address the kind of dreamers who want technology to change the world for the better. It needs to have strangeness and a sense of familiarity, to make it look like it should already exist but doesn't.
As the watch sometimes displays very intimate information, we needed to create a sense of security for the user. I found that tilting the screen towards the user, and bringing it a little closer on the wrist helps a lot to make the interaction more personal. It feels very natural to have the screen facing us, and it also makes the watch sit unexpectedly comfortable on the wrist.
The interaction between user and watch needed to be natural and effortless. The tilted screen helped a lot with the position of interface elements. Instead of a touch screen, I decided to use a slider next to the screen, where the user can scroll without obstructing the screen with their fingers. In the corner of the screen, closest to the user, was the perfect spot for a "confirm" button, that will be used to approve certain functions. This created a very natural hand position, with the index finger scrolling, and the thumb using the OK button.
After identifying the main functional and ergonomic parts, it was time to start drawing. It was difficult to break the symmetry and retain a sense of balance and honesty. Some parts needed to have more structure than others. In the end, the asymmetry gave the watch a very unique look.
The design of the watch represents a bridge between our digital identity and our physical bodies. The screen embodies the digital. Perfect square, with black and white square pixels. The watch body has a crystalline structure, with flat surfaces and shiny, sharp edges. The strap is a seamless continuation of the watch body. Defined by geometry, but a more organic structure, like sand dunes. And then we arrive at the actual human body, the most structurally complicated of them all. This evolution of form radiates from the centre of the watch, and creates an essential bond between digital and physical.
I had to create a new visual language for the watch, simplifying incredibly complex functions to glance-able, information filled symbols. We needed to cram a lot of information onto a tiny screen, and when it was not possible to use signs, we had to use text. The low resolution screen (144x144px) demanded bitmap fonts (no anti-aliasing), so it was my task to hand-craft each letter for maximum readability and space saving.
Building the first prototypes has been an amazing experience, and a lot of work with many different techniques.