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Watch of the Future?

by J.Edwards

MIT Media Lab's WUWA forward looking article recently published on Wired’s Epicenter Blog, showcases some brand new R&D out of MIT’s Media Lab that is looking to evolve the functionality of today’s cellphones well beyond the benchmark set by Apple’s iPhone. Using a mashup of off-the-shelf hardware, including a webcam and small projector, the device is capable of recognizing hand gestures, text, and objects to call up relevant contextual information, manipulate data, and even project a virtual watch onto your wrist simply by drawing a circle on it with your forefinger.

Fewer and fewer young people today are wearing wristwatches, eschewing them for the convenience of their cellphones and iPods. While haute-horology may have seen a resurgence in recent years, as high-rolling executives who can’t parade their Jags in the boardroom choose to sport a Jaeger-LeCoultre instead, many watch companies (particularly in the middle-range) have been watching their margins slowly dwindle over the past decade as a result of the younger generations’ inclination towards multipurposed technology. Taking note of the changing tide, several watch companies have begun to segue into cellphone technology themselves. From simple caller-ID enabled wristwatches to full out cellphones like Tag Heuer’s Meridiist and Ulysse Nardin’s up-and-coming Chairman (to be unveiled at this year’s Baselworld Fair).

Unfortunately for Tag and Ulysse Nardin, if Pranav Mistry’s vision of our future “sixth-sense” is any indication of where the cellphone market is headed, their unreleased phones may already be as antiquated as the Unitas in my pocket watch. That said, while the notion of projecting a watch onto my wrist may be intriguing, I can’t say that I ever see myself preferring it to the kinesthetic pleasure and tactile wonder of a finely crafted, mechanical watch.

What are your thoughts?

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