Eco-friendly and pro-wellbeing: introducing the smartwatches of the future (as designed by kids!)
What does the future hold for smart watches, and is wearable technology good for the wellbeing of children? We collaborated with kids and parents from across Britain to investigate.
22 Apr 2019
A couple of decades ago the words ‘smart watch’ meant something entirely different - alluding to an entirely different kind of ‘smart’. It would have been hard to imagine that in just a few years’ time, our watches would be so smart that they would basically serve as our very own digital assistants. From inbuilt pedometers and heart-rate monitors that track our health and fitness, to social media apps that help us to stay in the loop while on the move, the best are playing an increasingly significant role in our lives.
With the advancing list of features growing longer with each release of a new Apple or Android smart watch, it got us wondering: what does the future of wearable tech look like?
Well, what better way to build a picture of the future than with the assistance of our future generation and their vivid imaginations? They’ll be the ones benefitting from the futuristic gadgets, after all!
We asked a group of children to produce drawings of what they think future smartwatches will look like and it turns out they’re pretty switched on to issues such as the environment, safety and health. More so than perhaps even their own mum or dad think!
How do they feel about their youngsters wearing a kids’ smart watch? And how important is it that the watch offers features related to safety, health and eco concerns?
54% of parents surveyed think that wearable tech is good for their child’s welfare. Read on to learn a bit more about why.
The Safety Sidekick
By Thomas Mowatt
This precisely mapped out illustration by 10-year old Thomas Mowatt demonstrates a meticulous attention to detail and a fantastic ability to translate ideas into a crystal-clear design – perhaps a career as an engineer lies ahead of him?
The watch boasts a night vision torch that lights up your path ahead so you can see exactly where you’re going, no matter the time of day. And we’re not talking a tunnel-vision style beam of light that you can get from a traditional torch – this safety sidekick illuminates the surrounding area in a way that emulates daylight. Advancing on the safety theme, an inbuilt self-defence zapper can be activated via the watch to stun another person or an animal - if they pose a threat – and lasts long enough to let you reach safety.
Other notable features include a global language translator, activated by voice and text - so you’d never have trouble with language barriers when wearing this handy little gadget – as well as a mood detector that triggers support notifications when it notices your mood drop.
The overriding concept of the watch is personal safety and self-defence. Arguably, parents needn’t worry about their child walking home from school in the dark when they’re wearing this innovative piece of smart tech.
This could be a key selling point of a children’s smart watch, as according to our survey results, safety and security is the number one concern among parents when it comes to their children’s welfare. Furthermore, when asked how they felt about using wearable tech to track their child, parents weren’t averse to the idea, and popular responses included increased peace of mind, and the added benefit of being able to reach their child quickly.
The Mood Monitor
By Reneh Miller
Reneh Miller’s psychedelic mood monitoring smartwatch is sure to make a statement with its brightly coloured geometric wristband. It’s far more than a fashion accessory, though, as the key feature of this gadget is a mood monitor that not only changes the colours on the wristband but triggers a support app when it detects that you may be feeling blue.
In recent years, social media usage has been identified as a contributing factor in depression and anxiety. This is especially prevalent among young people, who find themselves under pressure to ‘keep up’ with their peers and compare themselves to the polished aesthetic of unattainable social media ‘ideals’. Of all the parents surveyed, over half (51%) stated that their child is interested in social media and 61% admitted they use it frequently themselves - particularly mothers, with 76% of female parents saying they care about social media, compared to just 51% of male parents.
Thankfully, mental health awareness is on the up and this gadget aims to promote mental wellbeing by offering support in the form of advice, helpline referrals and links to feel-good content when it may be needed.
Additional functionalities of the watch include an inbuilt fitness tracker (also encouraging good health - in a physical sense) that monitors step count, heart rate and calorie burn, and sound recognition software that alerts you to potential dangers via a gentle vibration. These dangers could include detection of smoke or gas, somebody approaching you from behind or unsafe levels of radiation.
The Fitness Champion
By Sasha Shadrouh
Keeping our future generation fit and healthy is of utmost importance, and what better way to encourage kids to stay active than with their very own personal trainer…on their wrist? Sasha Shadrouh’s fitness champion smart watch steps up to the job perfectly by providing little nudges throughout the day to remind the user to get moving. Moreover, the solar charging functionality of this watch means it’s doing its bit towards preserving the planet.
Step count, heart rate and calorie burn are all on show, encouraging the wearer to make healthy adjustments. A virtual personal trainer offers guided workouts and exercise tips, so even beginners can get stuck into a good workout with ease!
Ranking second in importance after personal safety, 79% of the parents surveyed identified health and fitness as a matter they care about, yet only 49% think their child cares about it. Perhaps this is indicative of the fact that kids need a little more encouragement to stay fit and healthy; encouragement this nifty gadget could offer in spades!
The Eco Assistant
By Lacie Greenhalgh
The environment is front and centre in Lacie Greenhalgh’s smartwatch design. The Eco Assistant is all about minimising damage to our planet by encouraging recycling and using a green source of power. An inbuilt plastic scanner allows users to scan their rubbish to find out if it can be recycled or not – something that can cause confusion when it comes to disposing of certain items, e.g. clear plastic vs. black plastic. The watch also boasts a mini solar panel that charges the device using natural energy generated by the sun.
Among the parents surveyed, younger parents were less likely to feel that their child is interested in sustainability. Only 38% of parents under 25 think their child is worried about being environmentally friendly, while 60% of parents over 45 claim their child does care about looking after the planet. Looking at the smartwatch designs from our young artists, we think some parents may be underestimating their child’s interest in the environment.
On top of the eco advantages of this smart watch, Lacie’s design also aims to aid a good night’s sleep, with a handy sleep monitor tracking both the length and quality of it each night. In turn, this information can encourage earlier bed times, or identify potential sleep disruptions.
The Disease Detector
By Amelia Joy
Lots of serious illnesses can sit dormant for some time before they exhibit any obvious signs or symptoms, and earlier detection in some cases could be lifesaving. This is something that Amelia Joy wanted to champion when she designed her disease-detecting smart watch. The watch monitors aspects of your health, such as your heart rate and body temperature, to detect potentially significant changes in your body that could indicate something is wrong.
Following the health theme, memory synchronisation keeps a record of special, important or particularly poignant memories, to aid recall of events at a later date. This functionality is potentially life-changing for users suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The most ground-breaking offering of the lot, however, has got to be the teleporting functionality. Not only does this push the boundaries of science, but it reduces the impact travel has on the environment by removing the need for traditional transport. Some more good news for our planet!
If these young illustrators are onto something, it seems that our already revolutionary smart watches could be having even more of an impact on our lives and the world around us in years to come. Can you imagine a life where teleportation is more mainstream than taking the bus? Or how about a piece of wearable tech that alerts you to an illness before you’re even aware you’re unwell? Only time will tell, of course, but the future looks rosy.