The Apple Watch hack: Bringing design experience to reinvent the wearable
Crunch Community Contributor
I purchased an Apple Watch six months in the past. This was no informal buy. As an Apple fan, a watch collector and with greater than 20 years of expertise within the design innovation area, I had extraordinarily excessive expectations of the acquisition. Whereas I’ve loved the fashionable Apple Watch’s options and features, I’ve sometimes felt annoyed with the general expertise, for 2, admittedly private, causes.
First, the Apple Watch gained’t constantly monitor my coronary heart fee. Due to a historical past of coronary heart illness in my household, I maintain an in depth eye on my well being. Monitoring my coronary heart price over the course of days and weeks would offer me with useful longitudinal knowledge. The Apple Watch is designed to measure a consumer’s coronary heart price each time the Exercise App is launched, however in any other case gained’t document it when one strikes, which is strictly once I need to measure it (I understand this protects battery life, however I’d be pleased to recharge all through the day to have this performance).
Second, it’s arduous to suit the Apple Watch into my aesthetic life. As a man who has collected watches for greater than 20 years, I used to be dissatisfied that sporting my Apple Watch meant not sporting my different timepieces. I’ve tried to put on each the Apple Watch and a watch from my assortment concurrently, one on every wrist, nevertheless it was uncomfortable…and I felt like a tech nerd (no offense to tech nerds — I’m one, however typically I attempt to cover it).
So I noticed this as an fascinating design problem, just like the type I regularly face in my day-to-day work. This time, nevertheless, I used to be each the designer and the buyer. Might I discover a solution to put on the Apple Watch every day, collect steady coronary heart fee info and nonetheless put on my different watches? I’ve had vital expertise designing each medical units and shopper merchandise, so I hoped to make use of this data in creating my answer.
My first thought: The physique of the Apple Watch could be separated from its band. That could be the kernel of an answer. This watch physique “engine” module might probably be relocated on the physique with out using the watchbands.
Subsequent got here a 4-step design course of:
Step 1: Decide if the Apple Watch’s coronary heart price monitor would work when worn on different elements of the physique. I created a collection of fast hack fashions to see what would occur if I wore the watch on my ankle, shoulder, forearm and stomach whereas operating. The Apple Watch efficiently monitored my coronary heart fee when worn on my ankle, shoulder and forearm — however not my stomach. That is possible as a result of Apple’s photoplethysmography course of depends on studying the circulate of blood, and there’s inadequate “seen” blood move across the stomach.
Step 2: Work out the place on my physique to put on the watch engine. I shortly noticed that there weren’t many choices…particularly as a result of I needed to have the ability to view the watch display always. My ankle and shoulder had inherent visibility — and display-entry challenges. I settled on my higher forearm. On this location, I might put on the watch engine discretely, beneath an extended-sleeved shirt. It will be invisible with sleeves rolled down, but accessible when wanted.
Step three: Devise a course of for attaching the Apple Watch to the forearm. There was no straightforward option to connect it to my forearm. The Apple Watch bands weren’t lengthy sufficient to encircle the forearm, and even when they have been, the display was improperly oriented for viewing. This meant that the Apple Watch band connection factors in all probability couldn’t be used to carry it to the forearm.
Step four: Prototype. Understanding that the Apple Watch physique module would successfully learn my coronary heart fee on my forearm, I started creating wearable prototypes that may maintain the watch to my forearm. In the long run, I constructed 4 prototypes.
First prototype: clear patch
A pores and skin-protected clear adhesive leveraged from medical merchandise (Tegaderm) covers the watch physique. The benefits are that it’s straightforward to use and it holds nicely to the arm. The disadvantages are that the adhesive appears creepy on the pores and skin and the Apple Watch display is a bit onerous to see via the adhesive.
Second prototype: body and band
The watch physique is held underneath clear movie pocket in a plastic body and a versatile material strap is added to safe the watch physique to the forearm. The strap labored nicely and the watch physique can simply be inserted and eliminated, however it seems to be over-designed and hulking on the arm.
Third prototype: case and band
A transparent watch physique case is hooked up to a versatile strap (introduced ahead from the second prototype). The Apple Watch snaps into the case and it holds the watch physique within the correct orientation. This offers a extra conventional look — like a smartphone-holding train strap — and it’s snug and straightforward/fast to placed on and take off. Nevertheless, this configuration limits use to solely the forearm (and perhaps ankle); ideally I’d like an answer I might put on on different elements of my physique.
Fourth prototype: adhesive patch
A transparent watch physique case is hooked up to a versatile material patch. A medical pores and skin-protected adhesive (from the primary prototype) is utilized to the underside of the patch. The watch physique snaps into the clear case. The benefits are that it’s straightforward to use, holds nicely to the arm and can be utilized in a number of places on the physique. There are not any disadvantages.
Working within the design business, we frequently do what we name Resonance Testing: giving our prototypes to shoppers to know which goal attributes resonate with them. This testing course of isn’t about discovering a statistical winner. Moderately, it focuses on idea evolution — carrying ahead solely probably the most profitable features of every concept. Though this check of the Apple Watch engine was an N of 1, I adopted an identical strategy, evolving every idea and brining one of the best attributes to the next ideas.
In the long run, the fourth prototype, the Apple Patch, most successfully match my life. What was it concerning the Apple Patch?
The watch physique, which was held in place by a transparent plastic case hooked up to a pores and skin-protected adhesive patch, allowed me to put on it unobtrusively whereas additionally sporting certainly one of my favourite watches from my assortment. It additionally allowed the pliability to put on it in several places on my physique. The patch may be custom-made with numerous colours and patterns. So this redesign allowed the Apple Watch to constantly feed me details about my coronary heart fee, simply as I desired. The truth is, I’m rolling up my sleeve and searching down at my Apple Watch as I sort this, and may report that my coronary heart price is fifty eight.
The Apple Watch hack offered two good classes:
Prototype to study. Though experiential prototyping and testing is core to any designer’s strategy, I used to be excited by how shortly I used to be capable of evolve and enhance the design by creating casual testing fashions. It made me additional recognize the significance of this agile-like strategy to innovation and failing ahead quick.
Each innovation might be custom-made and improved. Shoppers have distinctive wants and corporations ought to help and encourage customization within the services they create. Because the maker motion and at-house 3D printing grows, it is going to be much more necessary to empower shoppers to be a part of the design and innovation course of.