Apple Watch: Designing for Wearable Tech

Since it’s announcement, people from all different industries have been weighing in on the Apple Watch. The idea of wearable tech such as this isn’t new, as Samsung and Motorola have made their foray into watches of a similar ilk, but the buzz around Apple brings the conversation front and center. From techies who embrace wearable technology to those that ask for it to do more, to the fashionistas who critique the watch’s style, it’s a conversation worth having.

With initial concerns that the watch wouldn’t work for left-handed folks—it will—and the parodies, these conversations aren’t just about Apple as a brand but also about what we want from our technology. (After all, it’s like the future of the ’80s is finally in our hands and on our wrists.)

Why should you care about the Apple Watch (and wearable tech)?


Image from Apple

Apple fan or not, the Apple Watch calls attention to the increasingly more savvy end-user — and the need for designers to consider their audience and its needs when crafting new tech. For example, in a tweet that led to some equally-humorous dialogue, Geoff Teehan, co-founder of Teehan+Lax and HOW Interactive Design Conference speaker, posed an interesting perspective: 


Apple Watch is interesting for people without pockets. I’ve never worn a skirt, but I imagine it’s a pain to dig through a purse to check a msg

Followed by:


Plus, skinny jeans and huge phones.

Teehan’s tweets stirred up some Twitter fun and laughs about the problem that the watch addresses, which HOW expert Christopher Butler tweeted back:


@gt I’m waiting for Apple Fashion Scarf, personally. In the meantime, I feel they do not get me 😉

Yet, Teehan wrote a short article, explaining why the watch may still draw a crowd (maybe more so than the iPhone 6) — and why you should care:

Sometimes, all a product needs to do to be successful, is solve a seemingly tiny problem.

That is, Apple was addressing the the need for users to access information without struggling to find their phone on their person. So yes, while there were references to a Kickstarter for pants that add in a pocket for mobile devices (Does anyone else have flashbacks to cargo pants?), Teehan is highlighting a larger issue that designers know, but sometimes need to be reminded of again: Design can solve problems.

Wearable technology is a tangible way in which these problems can be addressed. As Nick Myers, Director of User Experience Design and another HOW Interactive Design Conference speaker, explains:

Designers need to devote a lot more time to considering context and scenarios to identify the real world experiences people will have with a wearable device. Lives are messy. We need to handle the messes with elegant design.

While you may not be working on the Apple Watch 2.0, you have the opportunity to not only use your design mind to make life’s messes more elegant, but to also carefully craft the technology of the future.



Hear from Christopher Butler and other leading web design and wearable tech experts at the HOW Interactive Design Conference in Chicago, October 19-21 and San Francisco, November 17-19. Immerse yourself in interactive discussions and learn skills you can apply in your daily work.