Smartwatches- Is Round Design Critical?
There has been a lot of buzz recently about the new Moto 360 Android Wear based smartwatch. While most smartwatches on the market today feature a square or rectangular design, the Moto 360 features a round option. According to Jim Wicks, lead designer of the Moto 360, the purpose behind the round option was to […]
There has been a lot of buzz recently about the new Moto 360 Android Wear based smartwatch. While most smartwatches on the market today feature a square or rectangular design, the Moto 360 features a round option. According to Jim Wicks, lead designer of the Moto 360, the purpose behind the round option was to get users on board with the idea without having to sell them something they aren’t used to.
Vectorform team members gave their take on the design and if round is really critical to watch design and the experience as a whole.
A Developers Take
Round isn’t “critical”, in fact, it’s really bad human factors. The round form factor of a conventional watch or clock is because the hands sweeps out a big circle. The human perceptual field for a small area is rectangular. It only starts to get rounded when you’re working with things about 80 degrees diagonal.
The round watch is actually a major case of functionality being scrapped in favor of appearance. They’ve made some statements concerning maximum surface area that are flat-out untrue. The wrist is basically cylindrical (it’s an ellipsoidal extrusion, if you want to get picky). Comfort is determined by height, the portion of the ellipse covered, and rectangles deliver a better ratio of surface area to height.
– Joseph- Subject Matter Expert & Interactive Developer
A Designers Take
I personally wouldn’t like designing for a round screen. There’s lots of waste. Back in 2010 my husband and I entered a design contest for an LG Phone. We designed a round phone called the “LG Tag.” He did the phone. I did the UI. I felt the UI struggled because of the round screen. I though it would be nice if the watch could clip on to the ear. No longer a need to carry both a phone and a watch.
I’d would also like to see screens begin to wrap (ala Joseph’s “ellipsoidal extrusion”). As a woman at 5’4″ (on a good day), these watches arriving to market are huge. They remind me of the brick phones of the 80s. I’d like something low profile. What if your iPhone 5 screen got reduced by 20% and wrapped on the wrist?
– Amy, Senior User Experience Designer
What’s your take on the round design, is round really critical?
Interested in learning more? Let’s start a conversation.