How to Build the Perfect Smartwatch

It’s time for vendors to step up and build the perfect smartwatch. It’s not really about the device at all, but the ecosystem around the device. Infrastructure & operations professionals have an opportunity here: to work with their business partners and vendors to construct next generation experiences around smartwatches.

For example, retail marketers, always on the hunt for the perfect in-store experiences, and are increasingly turning to mobile technologies to create customized interactions. By opting in to a relationship with a store, a patron can be recognized by name by a sales associate, see the images on digital displays change as she walks by them (tailored to her), receive in-store targeted promotions as she picks up particular products, and even leave the store without handing over any overt form of payment. All of these things are possible with today's technologies.

Scenarios like this one are inherently mobile, but smartphones aren't actually the best vehicle for these experiences. Smartphones can be easily stolen, for one thing, making the retail scenario challenging. And retailers don't want the eyes of patrons who walk into their stores glued to a smartphone; they want those eyes looking around the store.

Smartwatches, on the other hand, can be the perfect enabler of scenarios like this one (and like others in healthcare and other verticals), so long as they have all the necessary components. There are in fact eight strategic pillars for smartwatches:

1. Authentication. While smartwatches can be stolen just like smartphones, persistent biometric authentication (like that from Bionym) means that once the band is removed, permissions are lost. Bionym uses heart patterns, but other biometric measures (fingerprints, retina scans, brain waves) can be used. The key is the persistence of the authentication, which a smartwatch can enable on a user's wrist while it's clasped.

2. Geofencing. Detailed location-based scenarios require the creation of geofences, which divide the physical world into virtual subdivisions. An indoor variant of this technology involves the use of beacons (like Apple's iBeacon) to interact with a wearable device or smartphone. Both elements are critical to the retail and healthcare scenarios.

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J. P. Gownder is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder.