Smartwatches in higher ed?
After reading a whimsical tweet that proposed an academic edition of the Apple Watch, I began considering whether the real thing would succeed. At times Apple has been too far ahead of the curve (the Newton) or just plain wrong (the Cube), but several of its boldest ideas have caught on in a big way. This month’s release of the Apple Watch may even catalyze an explosion of wearable technology.
In what ways will the technology prove useful to academics and students? We won’t know until it has been available for a while, but apps will certainly be aimed at the classroom, lab, and office. The following video suggests some possibilities
Each Apple Watch app requires an iPhone running a partner app; Facebook on the watch expects you to carry a phone running Facebook (native apps are expected within a year). The first version has no camera, (like the first iPad), but it does have an accelerometer, a microphone, and a heart rate sensor. It can make a noise or vibrate on your wrist to alert you. The Apple Watch also has a unique “digital crown” that you pinch to zoom, turn to navigate, and press to select. It’s pricey ($349 and up), but cost doesn’t stop us from buying bigger and more expensive TVs.
Apple’s is not the first smartwatch. Twenty years ago the Timex Datalink wirelessly received and displayed calendar events, and shortly thereafter a watch-phone appeared. Lots of comapnies are seriously developing smartwatches and dozens are already making them. Several (including Pebble) began with Kickstarter funding. Google has introduced its Android Wear platform, but so far Microsoft has been quiet.
I’ve read a lot of “I don’t want another device; I can do all that with my phone.” Ten years ago laptops could do many of the things we now do with phones. These devices are more about convenience than new functionality. A smartwatch will make tasks easier; we don’t know which tasks or how useful, but who knew all the ways smartphones would be used? Don’t think of it as an added device. A smartwatch is a more versatile form of something we already use and – unlike a phone – it’s always out there on your wrist.
- How The Apple Watch Will Work (Fast Company, 2/14/15)
- Smartwatch (Wikipedia)
- 2015 Horizon Report – wearable technology (p.42)
- What Might an Apple Watch for Higher Education Look Like? (Wired Campus, 3/10/15)
- Apple Watch: Coming to a Classroom Near You? (Wired Campus, 9/10/14)
- 5 Ways Wearable Tech Will Be Used in Higher Education (PlattForm, 3/11/15)
Image credit: edited by Chris Clark from “Old Timer” by Rod Stradling on Flickr