Design Submitted by Anders from Sweden.
Anders says: I wanted to try designing something a little more avant-garde and iconic than the smartwatches I’ve seen before. Specifically I aimed to find an interesting way to mix the time display and the Bluetooth indicators. In order to maximize the clarity of the design I’ve tried to keep everything as clean, uncluttered and legible as possible. What I’ve come up with is this; Nippon.
Basically, the time and the Bluetooth alerts are separated, with one display each; mirror LCD (preferably) for the time and LED for the BT functionality. The trick is that the displays are layered. The segmented LED display doubles as a backlight for the LCD. When there’s an incoming call or mail – or some other alert – the appropriate icon lights up and shines through the time indicators. Of course, all segments together can be used as a standard backlight in low ambient light conditions.
The time is displayed in 12-12-5 format, with an LCD arrangement subtly inspired by the Japanese naval ensign but with a jagged, futuristic flavour. The central circle acts as an AM/PM indicator, around which the twelve hour segments are arranged. They all have a notch on their outer sides, each notch pointing to that segment’s hour position. Twelve 5-minute indicators form a ring around the hours, and outside of them to the right the five single minute indicators continue the lines from the hour segments. To allow the backlight icons to shine through, the LCD segments are only partially shaded, at different levels between the groups in order to aid legibility and to show off the LCD segmentation. In order to maintain the sunburst pattern as much as possible the current segments are either shaded more or less, as required.
Controls for the watch consist of three touch buttons; up, down and select, the latter of which is in the center of the watch face. The directional buttons are used to step to the desired icon, and of course select is used to activate that icon. I feel this solution should me much speedier to navigate with a relatively small increase in complexity; the user being able to step through the choices in both directions rather than cycling through them unidirectionally.
Access to the menu could be achieved by holding one or two of the buttons for a couple of seconds, to minimize the risk of accidental input. I imagine that the LEDs would flash in some suitable fashion to indicate that the menu is active.
The LED backlight is carefully segmented to allow it to display all necessary icons with as few segments as possible. To indicate unread messages, missed calls and alerts, the appropriate icon or icons will flash in turn, once, twice or three times depending on the number of alerts. The frequency of the flashes should depend on the elapsed time since the last alert. As the reminders build up, the watch will cycle through them continuously. This ‘alert cycle’ should be a kind of ‘home screen’ which the watch automatically reverts to by default after a set period of inactivity, and when the wearer accesses the menus through the watch, the alerts should of course stop cycling, to avoid confusion. The exception to this is naturally the alert for an incoming call, which overrides everything else. The watch displays a pulsing call icon and activates the buttons to let the user choose a response.
I realize that the shape of the face might prove difficult to manufacture, and the design might well require some changes, especially in the width of the case border. That should be perfectly possible, but I feel that the sharp step should be retained in some form as that element links the face, body and the metal strap, as well as being a fastening point for the alternative plastic/fabric strap. One option I’ve toyed with is that the top half of the body and the rubber ‘skirt’ could be removeable, to allow for some personalization. It’d be a bit tricky since it would require removing the strap mounts, but it’s probably possible to come up with an easier solution if the idea appeals.