By Casey Liss

Summer is in full swing, and we’ve now made it through both WWDC and Google I/O. Google has debuted some of their new offerings, and fall is just around the corner for Apple to introduce theirs. These days, there seems to be only one word on everyone’s minds: “wearable”.

What does this really mean? What kind of device is a “wearable”? Naturally, it’s assumed to be something worn on your person. After that, everything becomes fuzzy. The most natural conclusion is to assume that this device will be worn on the wrist. But is that really the right answer?

This “iWatch” situation reminds me quite a lot of the lead up to the iPhone. Coincidentally, just a few days ago was the seventh anniversary of the original iPhone going on sale. Before the iPhone was announced in January of 2007, there were a million ideas about what it would look like. It was not uncommon to see something insane that had a click wheel on it.

Naturally, that’s not what we got.

The more I think about it, the more I remind myself that Apple has a simple playbook when it comes to expanding into new product categories. For devices like the iPhone and iPad, Apple takes a market we are all pretty sure they’re interested in, and they enter it in a way we don’t expect. A phone without buttons? Just a big iPhone? Whaaaat?

On rare occasions, such as the iPod, Apple enters a market we just don’t expect them to enter at all. So how does that apply to an “iWatch”?

The most obvious solution for a “smart watch” is something like the Pebble. It seems a general consensus that this device will have:

  • A screen to display things
  • Physical controls, or a touchscreen, to interact with the device

The most blatant purpose of these devices, such as the Pebble, are to surface notifications to your wrist. While useful, this is obvious and uninspired; two words that are not found in the Apple playbook.

So what will Apple do?

I’ll bet that some sort of “iWatch” will likely involve some sort of clever application of either new or existing sensors. This isn’t exactly an original thought; in fact, it has has been brought up quite recently. I’m not sure what those sensors are, though it seems clear that they’ll be reporting to and/or interacting with the M7 and its future descendants.

I’d also wager a guess that this future device will take one of the following forms:

  • Completely passive, providing no feedback of any kind
  • Some sort of haptic feedback
  • At most, and I find this extremely unlikely, one or more LEDs.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like a watch in its current form is too obvious. While I do think the idea of a ring is a bit preposterous, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if Craig was onto something.