The Apple Watch: Mile-marker On The Road To Invisible Technology

By Chad Otis, Executive Creative Director

Isaac Newton is credited with having said “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” In Sir Newton’s day, he and his peers made great strides forward in technological advancement. Modern innovation doesn’t tend to happen in great leaps forward. It’s much more iterative, cumulative. The Apple Watch is another small tick of progress on our way to the invisibility of technology. Amazon’s Echo is another example of the “backgrounding” of technology – where these things become unthinking parts of our daily routines. We’ll eventually use them like we use a doorknob or comb – naturally and without much thought. That’s what technology really is about after all – making our lives easier, more convenient. Technology aims to minimize time spent on the mundane and maximize the time we have available for the things that matter.

People will huff at the idea that the Apple Watch might relieve its users of the inconvenience of having to remove one’s phone from one’s pocket. But, if we follow the trajectory of that trend, starting, for example, with landline phones tethered to a wall, moving to mobile phones the size of a brick, then flip phones that need to be opened with antennas that need to be extended, then smart phones with 4 digit pass codes, then current smart phones with fingerprint recognition and voice recognition, to now Apple Watch – hands-free with haptic cues (users can tell if they’ve recieved a text vs. a phone call, for example – Apple coined the term “taptic”), and active position recognition that recognizes whether users have raised their hands into watch-viewing position – where will we be in 10 years? Or 20?

Hollywood likes to project those trends – sometimes envisioning unwelcome results. For example, the movie Her, with its in-ear, ultra-personalized and Turing-tested IA, envisions a future in which the lines between the human and tech have become too transparent.

Apple Watch provides a genuinely timely response (and useful layer of interactivity) to the way we interact with content on-the-go. That is, in micro-moments – leaving the next layers of engagement, on phone or desktop, for when we have more time, require less distraction, or need more screen real estate.

For better or worse, the Apple Watch is another small step on the long path to invisible technology, and we gadget-hungry early adopters are all really just happily volunteering (and paying a lot) to be part of a large focus group – testing and providing feedback to help evolve technology toward invisibility. You’re welcome.

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