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Is the next big tech revolution on your wrist?

I haven’t owned a watch for quite a few years, but The New York times are reporting that Apple are apparently playing with loading their iOS software into a wrist watch.  Apple aren’t the only ones investing in smartwatch technology. A great crowd funded start-up called Pebble also has a bluetooth enabled watch.

It got me dreaming about what exciting research possibilities this might offer. We could serve up surveys to people’s watches, using the watch alarm to alert the user to a new question, maybe linked to GPS. We could monitor biometrics like heart rate, and movement patterns. We could remind people to do other time related tasks less (or maybe more!) obtrusively than via mobile phones. There must be tonnes of other possibilities.

The opportunities that the smartwatch offers are very exciting because it isn’t hidden in peoples pockets or bags like phones are. The watch is a device that is almost permanently attached to it’s user so offers researchers, advertisers, friends etc etc to get the attention of the wearer much easier, than a mobile phone can.

Of course the flip-side is that the smartwatch is perhaps another nail in the coffin of our ability to escape all the above mentioned distractions. How long will it be before we get Facebook alerts (or survey invites) delivered directly to our brains? How will this affect survey drop-outs…will we need to gamify our neuro-surveys?

Despite these reservations, I for one am quite excited by the possibilities the smartwatch, both as a fan of tech and as a research enthusiast. My wallet is at the ready….please, somebody take my money!

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