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Alex Cho is a top contributor on Seeking Alpha in both the long ideas and technology section of the website. Alex Cho's articles have been featured on The Motley Fool, The Street, and Benzinga. Alex Cho has been featured on ValueWalk's throwback Thursday for his analysis on Apple. Furthermore,... More
  • Apple's Watch Could Have A Lot Of Potential 0 comments
    Feb 23, 2014 9:14 PM

    There's been a lot of news about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) over the past couple weeks, with spoofs about how Tim said something about new product categories. Granted, Apple could in fact release new product categories this year or next year, but Apple almost never mentions anything about their new product categories unless if it's done at a major Mac conference.

    However, this isn't going to stop me from speculating on Apple's future product roadmap. We know that Apple is going to release an improved version of the iPhone. Perhaps it will be bigger, more power efficient, and maybe it will come with a sapphire screen. Then there's the fact that Apple is put in a weird position with the Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWX) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) merger, which may delay Apple's internal plan to release an actual television rather than another set top box.

    So ignoring the rumors surrounding Apple's television, iPhone, and iPad I'm going to turn my attention to the iWatch. At the present moment, Apple can't allow Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) to be the only competitor in the wearable computing space. However, at the same time, Apple won't release a product just to release one. Apple needs to come up with something brilliant in order to adhere to its high standards.

    Interesting development and perhaps speculation on Apple's upcoming product

    So, rumors are rumors guys, and not everything that's been rumored will actually happen. On the other hand, leaks, and the like can be a useful enough of an indicator to get a basic idea of what may actually happen, so I can't help but speculate on future products.

    At the present moment, it's believed that Apple's upcoming watch will come with various sensors that can monitor your health. Maybe Apple can one-up Nike's (NYSE:NKE) sport watch. However, Apple needs to offer much more utility than a device that can just monitor heart rate, or the amount of distance a person has run, or needs to run in order to burn enough carbs.

    So I wondered what Apple could do with a watch that perhaps no other company could. Since I frequent the gym a lot, and lift weights like a maniac, I think it would be awesome if Apple could create watches that can monitor things like body mass index, protein intake, and work-out effectiveness.

    Perhaps, Apple can include a gazillion cameras located all over the watch that could offer more data inputs on the environment a person is in. The cameras could give data on a person's weight lifting form, the frequency of a person's visit to a gym, and the amount of weight he/she lifted in the previous week, and etc. Plus, if a person stands in front of a mirror in his/her boxers, the watch could look at the person, paired with other sensors, and determine the percentage of body fat on that person. Sounds crazy, but that could be the added benefit of a watch that can use a combination of data inputs to monitor your health.

    A watch can also monitor the environment and notify you of suspicious activity nearby. Active notifications of crime levels, and the like could give you an early leg-up on being able to avoid the dangers of a crime scene.

    Contextual environmental information could include data on the amount of food you have consumed (your watch sees it all), which may tell you that you're either falling behind or keeping on track with your dietary plan.

    Maybe the watch can offer information on local statistics, and describe data from another database on traffic conditions. Remember, GPS information on road conditions is only available when you have Google's Navigation app running. I'm thinking of a watch that can notify you based on inputs from GPS and camera that there's a road jam up ahead, and if you're in a crowded parking lot, it can guide you to an open parking space. Hopefully this device will immediately notify you of all the stuff happening around you. I'm also hoping that Apple avoids a watch UI that requires you to slam a bunch of touch commands to find all this data. What's the point, most people are too lazy to open up certain apps, so the information isn't going to be timely enough. Designing a device that acts like a smartphone is pretty redundant. Applications for the device should be designed to notify and take up screen space immediately upon certain visual/sound/sensor inputs. In other words, I hope the GUI isn't based purely on touch screen, touch inputs.

    The camera of the watch may be able to capture an image of the person you're talking to, and link the person to an online database like Facebook, so a name will show up on your watch screen. Or access a data base that can indicate where you're located, and the number of times you visited a store, and even tell you the amount of money you've spent in the past week at the aforementioned store.

    Advertising could go to the next level with ads based on your environment. Perhaps, an event is happening nearby, so the watch could notify you of a 50% discount due to a closeout sale. Maybe, you're walking by a casino, and they're offering beer on tap for half off. Heck, you could be walking by a bar and the watch may notify you that a local celebrity is at that specific bar. Or better yet, you're near downtown, and the watch notifies you of a nearby Lady Gaga concert. Maybe, you're walking into Wal-Mart and today's grocery special will show up on your watch.

    The sound sensors on the watch may monitor the number of times you coughed, or sneezed in the past week. Pulse sensors and temperature monitors may sense the severity of the cold. The sound paired with a temperature sensor could give you a leg-up on cold prevention. If you've been terrible at treating your cold, the camera will tell the watch you've skipped taking your prescription meds. Maybe Siri will say, "sir you forgot to take your meds today."

    Let's go back to the sound sensor. Maybe, you're singing, and voice recognition software could identify that you're off pitch. Or if you're trying to sing along to a song, lyrics of the song could show up on your watch to help you keep up. Maybe, the voice recognition software recognizes the sound of your friend, so when you say hello to them in person, you can get a quick update on your smart watch of all the recent status messages from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn your friend had over the past week. You can review the news on your friend by reading his statuses, just because your watch picked up on the sound of his voice. Maybe you'll congratulate him on his birthday even though you completely forget about it.

    The watch could be the near equivalent of a digital assistant that's even more detailed oriented than the personal secretaries of CEO's at Fortune 500 companies. It doesn't have to communicate with other people; it just needs to communicate with other devices. It's different from a smartphone, because the device isn't intended for finding and consuming information on a screen. It could be a device that's intended to notify you of information that's pertinent to the environment you find yourself in. This is something a smartphone can't do, because a smartphone's camera is blocked from view once you stick the thing in your pocket. Plus, the smartphone won't include sensors that would monitor your health, because it's not strapped around your wrist, it's almost always in your pocket, or it touches your hand.

    Conclusion

    If the rumors of a watch that could monitor health are true, Apple is most likely working on a device that's intended to communicate with other devices rather than other people. If that's the case, the user experience of the device won't be based on interpersonal communication, but based on information pertaining to the user, or the environment.

    Apple could release a device that's mediocre compared to what I had speculated throughout the course of this article. So don't get your hopes too high as this was all speculation. Let's just hope Apple really knows what it's doing when the upcoming iWatch hits shelves.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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