This morning, Jim Wicks, head of Motorola Consumer Experience Design sat down with Barbara Liss from Motorola’s Social Media team for a Google+ hangout. It wasn’t smooth sailing, it was 25 minutes late (perhaps Moto 360 had the wrong time set?) but they eventually got down to brass tacks and talked about the design.
To start with, Jim spoke about the circular shape of the Moto 360. He described the history of time pieces as part of the decision to go circular rather than the square or rectangular route that a number of companies entering the smartwatch field tend to go with. He said they looked at examples like the first time pieces – Sundials from ‘way back when’ and then forward to Pocket Watches, 100 years ago and even to clocks in places like train stations – they are all circular.
The circular design was also a decision to not swim against the cultural current. 80% or more of the watches sold in the world are circular and in retaining that degree of familiarity, it makes it comfortable and approachable to people when thinking about migrating to a smartwatch.
The circular design was also chosen because of the ‘Woah!’ factor, the rectangular design just didn’t have it, once their engineers saw the concepts for the circular design they found that ‘Woah!’ factor and all came on board fast.
Speaking about materials, Jim described Motorola’s heritage in materials innovation and needing to break the barriers of fashion. The Moto 360 has a burshed stainless steel circular casing, it will come with leather(Genuine Leather, no faux-leather here) or metal bands which are interchangeable by either yourself or a qualified professional. The quality of materials that Motorola intends to use will make it easy for people to use daily.
The Android Wear platform will encourage people to get rid of their traditional watch. Everything that Android Wear brings allows for ease of use. The glanceable technology that the Moto X contained has been integrated into the Moto 360. The Moto 360 will support the voice actions of Android Wear, but instead of people talking to their watch by saying ‘Oh Crap, I`m late’ they’ll be able to get meaningful reactions from their watches.
With regards to designs more geared towards women – Barbara Liss specifically stated she thought the current watch ‘looks good on her wrist’ – but they designed the Moto 360 to be more more approachable for the mass market. To my ear this reasoning sounds as if they really don’t expect women to be major purchasers of this first foray into Android Wear smartwatches.
The Moto 360 is not Motorolas first foray into wearables, the Moto Actv was instrumental in some of the design and technology behind the Moto 360, indeed the Actv had power management technology that went first into the Moto X and will now be present in the Moto 360.
With the design of the Moto 360 Motorola believes that the circular design has two benefits. The first benefit is that the design allows for a greater amount of screen real-estate to be visible while still being comfortable to wear, there’s no sharp corners to stick into your wrist. Secondly, the circular interface means that when glancing – Android Wear is all about glanceable information – at the Moto 360 your eye is drawn to the centre of the device.
Motorola wouldn’t be drawn any further into supplying global availability or pricing beyond advising there will be more information available as they move into summer (our winter).
Technically, the Moto 360 will work with any Motorola phone as well as any Android phone running Android 4.3 and above. The Moto 360 is water resistant – but not water proof. Jim said that they’re aware that consumers care about this and more details will be forthcoming on this subject. There’s no camera on-board and this is because they felt that this feature is ‘not essential’ when building a watch, it’s not a feature in their target category.
One of the advantages of the UI of the Android Wear platform is that it can be flipped, making it easy for ‘Lefties’ to wear the watch on their right arm. It’s Orientation free, definitely an advantage over traditional smartwatches.
It was a pretty light interview all up, quite softball but did outline Motorolas design decisions. We certainly can’t wait to know more about the Moto 360 and will be trying to get hands-on with a Moto 360 as soon as possible.
The video of the chat is now live, check it out :