A week without a wallet – the Disney MagicBand

When heading to Disney World who knew one of the most magical moments would be not having to use any of the following: ID, credit card, debit card, cash, or wallet to purchase anything, anywhere.

Disney launched their “magic bands” late in 2013 – and at first glance it seemed like a theme park enhancement. A way to get on rides easier, to verify your tickets, etc… But the killer feature was living the week without a wallet. I’m always interested in new payment methods, I’ve tried square, paypal – I use my starbucks app for every ice-tea purchase, but I haven’t seen anything that “just works” like this. And at scale, with 17 million people entering just Disney World’s Magic Kingdom each year.

image via: http://blog.silive.com/goofy_about_disney/2014/06/post_34.html

The bands are a water-proof and unobtrusive – a wearable that never needs to come off. It holds a RFID chip that holds all your information. That with a 4 digit pin number, and you’re set for anything needed at any Disney park or even Downtown Disney shopping area.

It’s liberating, simple, and convenient. Almost too simple, which I’ll assume leads to bigger average purchases then non-band shoppers. And something I can’t believe someone else like a VISA or MasterCard hasn’t yet been able to achieve (imagine wearing your VISA and AMEX bands all the time ;-)
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1.2 billion watches can’t be wrong – where does a smart watch go when you own a Rolex?

Smart Watch

Did you know 1.2 billion watches are sold annually worldwide? With 77% of those being mechanical (think “has a second hand”)? And around 120 million of those were sold in the US – more than the number of iPhones sold.

It has been about a year since my pebble smart watch shipped to my home. My first one died, and they promptly replaced it. And it’s been with me on a number of trips, in-the-water, out-and-about, and on my wrist for countless hours. They’ve improved the software, added features, and designed new and interesting watch faces.

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It’s wonderful at moving the cognitive load of: buzz, dig in pocket, unlock phone, view, slide, read – to just: buzz, glance. And a glance that is faster, less intrusive, and less rude in social settings.

So what’s the problem? I love watches. That space on my wrist is reserved. I own a number of watches – most inexpensive, but watches I enjoy – and I miss switching them out.

Rolex has sales of over $4b on watches ranging from $5k to $70k (or more). And if you think that’s pricy, google: Patek Philippe to see what a half million dollar watch looks like. The largest Swiss manufacture has $8.8b in annual revenue. The global watch market is reported to reach $46b by 2017.

Now tell me again why smart watches are a big deal?

What if Apple, Samsung, Sony, or LG could take a sliver of that share? Of that wallet?

Fossil, the only traditional watch manufacture I’ve seen mention Google’s Android Wear currently has 5.2% of the global watch market share. Are they looking to grow share? Or are they the only watch company getting ready to protect their share from newcomers that have zero history in watch manufacturing, but can make a digital device better than most.

And if google is providing the software, you know it will be good – so what is Fossil competing on vs. the others? Digital watchfaces?

For me, and my watch addiction, I’m torn. I love the functionality of a smart watch, but want the quality, story, and feeling of a traditional watch.

Ever heard the saying “You can judge a man by his watch”. It’s a brand tribe, it’s a class, it says “i’ve made it”. Watches are the only acceptable jewelry for men anywhere in the world.

If you are wearing one of the 29 million swiss watches sold each year, will you trade a $5,000 watch you got on your 40 birthday for a $300 Samsung smart watch? How do you compete with that as a smart watch maker?

moto-360

Motorola/Google is showing, for the first time, a classically designed smart watch. They’re moving in the direction of tradition with the Moto 360. Something that has the quality, and look of a mechanical. A look that’s been classic for a 100 years.

Will that work? Or, is there a space somewhere else? A “second wrist” device? This is the one thing I like about Samsung’s new Gear Fit. While it has the time, you could wear it opposite a traditional watch on the other wrist without looking like a total fool. And it’s actually selling well – they’ve sold out of the first run of 250,000.

watch-fit (image: source)

Or if just a bit narrower, it could complement a traditional watch like a trendy leather wristband bracelet thing (sorry, I have no idea what these are called).

This is why I was surprised to hear the rumors around Nike’s Fuel Band. There still seems like a segment that would want something to complement a watch, not replace one. But as phones get almost as good as any of these bands at tracking, and people giving up their children before their phones, maybe the writing is on the wall. You shouldn’t compete against someone’s phone. It’s going to win.

Then Apple. With rumors heating up, and seemly the name that is emerging is “iWatch” – which describes the design. And if they were designing a watch, wouldn’t they look to braun over something futuristic? Or something totally different altogether? To truly innovate?

Because it’s not really a smart watch category, it’s a “give me information that’s important to me quickly” category. And that could take many shapes and sizes.

48 hours with Google Glass

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A couple weeks back I was able to borrow Google Glass for 48 hours, and I wanted to maximize my time – so besides sleeping (and showering) – I wore them non-stop. Even when my wife kept asking “Are you really going to wear those out?” and my kids saying “Where did you get those cool glasses!” (they still ask about them) – I wore them, talked to them, tapped them, and scrolled through the virtual interface floating in front of my face.

There is no better way to share something than with photos – so here are 48 hours of photos and videos from Glass:
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Designing for Google Glass

During SXSW I was able to attend Timothy Jordan’s talk on designing and developing for Google Glass. I’m somewhere in here – a photo taken directly from Jordan’s Glass:

SXSW Crowd for Google Glass

Two things struck me from the videos that I’ve seen from Google’s promotional videos:

1) The 100% hands off view is not totally accurate, as you’re touching, taping and swiping the side of the Glass often, and 2) the “augmented view” is also not 100% what has been imagined from the movies or other early phone based, or game based augmented reality experiences.

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