To design the new Moto 360 Smartwatch that is rumoured to be released some time later this summer, Motorola (yes, a Google company) fell back on one of the oldest tricks in the book. Having no doubt discovered the eye watering sums professional Swiss watch designers demand for original watch design, they had a light bulb moment when they decided to throw it open to the public – well not just any members of the public you understand, but the professional design communities of the UK and the US only. This is no doubt because they want the thinking and the design of any resulting applications and functions within the watch to be in English.
No wonder Motorola call it a smartwatch. It’s really a smart way to get hundreds of design ideas without actually paying for any other than maybe the one that wins. As it turned out Motorola were deluged with over 1,300 designs from designers both professional and freelance, British and American. Eventually they whittled their way down to what they feel is the ten most impressive designs, and, rather like Britain’s Got Talent, there will be but one winner whose watch will get to perform before a paying audience. Well, if the public really like other designs they might be marketed as well.
The shortlisted designs are shown below for your appreciation. No doubt some elements work better on some watches rather than others. Many designers have found new and ingenious ways of showing time. Perhaps because they are not restricted by generations of traditional Swiss time keeping traditions, it is easier to break a few sacred rules.
If you have ever been involved in a pitching process for a new piece of business which involves the submission of conceptual designs, you will know only too well that clients have a habit of cherry picking various design components from one agency and asking another to see if they can accommodate someone else’s ideas into their design. In other words they like the chemistry of one agency, but the ideas from another. They will deny totally that this happens, but I have witnessed it on several occasions. That way they pay for one design but with the cumulative thinking and genius of others. It’s a trick as old as advertising itself.
That said, slick and cool though some of the smart watch designs may be, the boffins at Motorola are not going to be able to just press and play any of these designs. They will still need plenty of thinking through to be able to work as fully functioning models, and ultimately, Motorola may well decide to go with a design entirely of their own making. However, it is bound to be a useful exercise in seeing what the design community would like to see for the future of the smart watch.
So what will be the functions of the Moto 360 smart watch? Obviously it will do all the things other smart watches do such as alert you when you have a call, transit messages to you, possibly play music, tell you the temperature, the day, the date, your location and perform myriad other functions, but we are not yet sure what exactly those functions will be. Also, it has to be said, designers not intimately involved with building a smart watch probably only have a limited idea of what the necessary design specifications might be.
The buying public is encouraged to vote on their favourite design by visiting the Motorola Google+ page, and the first watch in the picture is currently receiving the most votes. Is pitching the design process out to thousands of designers the way to go for the future? Maybe.
This exercise would surely take a comprehensive brief to an experienced design company and the productions of functioning prototypes, so if the Moto 360 is going to be released in the summer, then it’s more than likely that a lot of the thinking has already been done.