Bruce Tognazzini, Apple employee #66 and founder of Apple’s Human Interface Group, published his thoughts on a potential smart watch product from the company (via MG Siegler) yesterday. While we have seen the launch of several Bluetooth smart watch products from startups this year, Tognazzini thought a watch from Apple could “have a profound impact on our lives and Apple’s fortunes.” One of the many interesting ideas Tognazzini has about how Apple might take advantage of a wearable device is the ability to build better maps:
Using pressure data from millions of watches, Apple could build a precision altitude map of the world. This map would indicate true altitudes everywhere that iWatch wearers travel. The granularity would be several orders of magnitude greater than ever before attempted for a wide-area map at a cost several orders of magnitude less than Flyover.
In the article, Tognazzini explained what he thought will be the standout features of an iWatch from Apple. While outlining the some of the apps you might expect like fitness and remote control applications, he said Passcodes and enhanced Find My iPhone features would be the two killer apps:
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Passcodes. The watch can and should, for most of us, eliminate passcodes altogether on iPhones, and Macs and, if Apple’s smart, PCs: As long as my watch is in range, let me in! That, to me, would be the single-most compelling feature a smartwatch could offer: If the watch did nothing but release me from having to enter my passcode/password 10 to 20 times a day, I would buy it…
Local Find: As long as your device is close by, just scrawl a question mark on the top of your iWatch or perhaps ask Siri, “Where’s my phone?” and your phone will light up and start chiming…. Automatic Find: with the iWatch on your wrist, as soon as you move out of range, it will tell you that you’ve forgotten your phone, then help you locate it, as needed
Some of the reasons why Apple could succeed where others have failed, according to Tognazzini, include wireless charging, curved glass, and Siri:
If you think about it, there isn’t actually a charging problem at all. Never has been. Instead, there’s a having-to-remove-the-watch-from-your-arm problem. What if you held a patent on a charger that could charge an object that is several feet away through the air wirelessly? Apple holds such a patent… Clunky design. Two reasons clunky design wouldn’t be a problem for Apple. The first and foremost: Jonathan Ive. Second: Apple’s recent patent on a low-cost method for creating curved glass for screens… Siri will be accompanied by touch, of course, with touch handling the lighter tasks, Siri the more complex. There will be overlap, so you can use more complex touch maneuvers when you can’t speak to your watch, during a meeting perhaps or when there’s a lot of ambient noise.