Lars Bergstrom

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Smart watches and IoT

04 Feb 2015

Smart watches and glasses are not particularly interesting today, except outside of the usual tech bleeding-edge adopters. I would not be terribly surprised if the Apple Watch sells well but primarily ends up sitting on nightstands. After all, who wants another device? Modern phones were heralded not just for their great screens and all that candy that needs crushin’, but for the replacement of many functions of other dedicated devices - walkman, camera, notepad, printout of your schedule, etc.

And that’s why I think watches and glasses actually are pretty interesting! They make me ask: when can we stop carrying a cell phone? That is, at what point can I handle music and calls from a watch and earpiece. And maybe texts, e-mail, and games via a headset that can track my fingers (or even the watch itself, if it could read finger movements via wrist muscle movements?

Beyond that, it’s finally a use I see for Internet of Things. Today, they’re a hard sell - who cares much about pairing with various household devices when you already have a cell phone with a 5” screen and your TV or laptop for anything bigger? But once you have a watch that, say, contains all of your open tabs and browser session state, that opens a lot of possibilities. Visiting a cafe or getting onto an airplane that has screens you could use at each station to securely restore and continue your session, with just a quick “refresh” of the webpage. The same for a self-driving car. Or even for workstations at your office!

So, for as much as I don’t argue with people who are skeptical of the current generation of smart watches, I think it’s still an amazing trend worth watching, because Microsoft has been talking about “mobile profiles” since the 90s and it’s increasingly popular today for all of the major browser vendors to have some kind of synchronization service. And at Mozilla, where we are trying to ensure that the Web is the whole platform, what more do you really need?