Designing Wearable Device: 10 Tips To Keep on Mind

Just Total Tech
20 Jan 2016

The future of technology is all you wear. We are addicted to technology & artificial intelligence. Wearable devices have become part of our lives in a way that we can’t let go of it even if we aim to. Starting from wristbands to watches to sunglasses to jackets, to rings, they are everywhere.

It started with a hearing device and it jumped to fitness calculating your steps & running to become a personal assistant with watches.

Gone are the days when companies had to dwell on developing apps for nothing but smartphones. This generation is witnessing the digital transformation of technology which is making life easier and reducing our efforts. Indeed, this new technology is challenging the developers to run with the trend.

Useful Facts

Let’s face the facts. It is said that the coming years are going to be the time of wearable. According to statista, the wearable market is promising, as the number of connected wearable devices worldwide is expected to jump from an estimate of 325 million in 2016 to over 830 million in 2020.


The majority of wearables owners are young, with nearly half (48%) between 18-34 years old, and men and women are equally likely to don wearable tech. And to support their love of the latest devices, these digital trendsetters typically have more disposable income, with 29 percent making over $100,000.

Among wearable tech owners, fitness bands were the most popular devices (61%), followed by smartwatches (45%) and mHealth (mobile health) devices (17%).

Tech giants like Google, Apple, Samsung, and Facebook investing hefty dollars into wearables. We are already convinced that smart wearable electronics showcase a constructive shift in the computing model.

However, the question is how would you manage to enter this emergent market developing wearable apps? To grab a fortunate spot in the industry in the wisest manner, you will have to make sure you don’t end up falling prey to errors that are trivial and grave alike.

Below, we have piled up 10 critical aspects that you should take care of when you are about to designing & developing apps for wearable devices. These aspects will assist you in developing a solid wearable app strategy, and thereby quality apps for wearables:

1. Developing for the smaller size

One of the biggest challenges in design in general for perfect wearable is minimalism.

Designers promptly learning that unlike laptops & mobiles, wearable devices are small in the size and will be within reach always. This is one of smallest in size they have ever worked on.

Functions are a fundamental concern. They have to keep in mind the limitations like smaller screen space, less information density, limited battery life so it will require a unique design approach.

Concentrating on developing fewer features first will give you hands-on to further develop more relevant functionalities. The Solution is to design it in a way that it should be visually engaging, user-friendly, provides practical experience.

2. Voice controls are fundamental

Voice controls we already know, we use it for searching on Google, Apple’s Siri visual assistant, Amazon Alexa etc. While we are designing a wearable device, the screen is going to be very small. Tap and touch are fine for smartphones, but it would be difficult for the smaller device. There come voice controls.

Voice control should be a prime concern that you should take into consideration. It would be most convenient for a small size. Likewise, we have Apple watch, voice control and apple’s IOs devices are inseparable. Siri visual assistance as an app that responds to commands and gets activates every time you raise watch.

3. Coping with the obvious uncertainties

Ask what is the best use of wearable apps and the answer would be quick interactions. However, considering that the market of wearable apps is in its most nascent stage. Vendors are yet to discover how customers are willing to interact with these applications as well as the devices.


Likewise, Jon Michaeli (Medisafe) says that “Make sure you understand the use case. You really have to simplify what it is that you’re going to do on the watch: understand what the boundary is so you don’t over complicate the application and make it unusable.”

It only means that you need to build apps that are overly simple and user-friendly at the same time. Remember, that there is always a scope for experimenting with the app design and functionality, so as to discover an ideal solution.

But before that, you should understand the types of problems your application can solve along with identifying your potential customers. Also, it is recommended that you consider all the available use cases as well as usability standards.

4. Don’t Ignore Color Contrasts and Visuals

You might think the color selection is not a big deal. Why I am giving much importance to colors and visuals.

But just imagine that you have made a very good wearable device technically, but users won’t be able to find anything on screen easily. Finding tools are difficult for them on screen because there is a number of features and icons are similar to each other.

Now it will make sense why Colors are going to be critical selection for the smaller device. Visuals are equally an important element. Design everything from colors to typing pad to visuals should be simple and straight. It should be read easily or it should be identifiable on a smaller screen.

Colors choices should be bright, high contrast and less decorated. Every part of design makes sense in a wearable device. Also, take in mind the environment wherein the device will be used, and it can be adjustable according to different environments.

5. Visual per Screen

Visuals should be eye-catching. The screen will be limited so you have to design in a way that whenever someone taps on a tool, a visual comes up on screen.

Every pixel matters when you have a screen size ranges between 320 pixels square to 128 pixels square. Utilize it carefully. It again goes back to minimalistic design. Visuals of the screen should be a reflection of the design interface of other devices. Overall aesthetic should have a similar look and feel.

6. Design without screen

We have Fitness belts like Fitbit, Nike fuel, sunglasses like Google Glass. These wearables don’t include screen Or maybe lesser a screen than watch. Light and other indicators or very few buttons are there.


These wearables are popular in the market. Vibrations and connectivity with other device and applications are fundamental features in the designing of these devices. Functions are useful even if a user can’t see it.

7. Keeping away from fragmentation

You being a developer simply cannot overlook the truth that wearable devices are highly admired for them being easily accessible; indeed even more than smartphones.

On the contrary, you are certain to encounter situations wherein the software and hardware may not work simultaneously. Therefore the data being exchanged by the devices via a cloud platform may lose its way.

It is vital to avoid such situations where the performance and user experience are affected. Hence, again you should only focus on deploying basic app functions, as well as use reliable software and hardware combinations.

8. Dealing with restricted platform functionalities

You might be already well-versed with the fact that platforms like Apple, Android and Tizen provide very few tools for developers. It is possible that your dream project that appears too easy on paper. But turn out to be too difficult in terms of implementing animations or sensor technologies.

The best solution to this is enabling “wearable device along with smartphone” scheme that lets you avail animations or tactic options. Also, you need to count on cloud solutions to not even mistakenly you are making your users wait.

9. Refrain from opting for Hardware Driven Approach

It isn’t a good idea to start off with a hardware-driven approach because the technology is evolving at a fast pace and so is the evolution of newly launched devices. Make sure that your app runs well on current-gen hardware along with the expected-gen hardware that’s expected to be launched in the near future.

This best way to deal with the scenario is a company launches a current-gen wearable only to satiate a few use cases. So that they can come up with immersive technology experience in the second go. Therefore, your entire app design and development process should be undertaken only after considering such use cases.

Develop the backlog beforehand while designing a wearable app. This is an essential part of the app building process. Very idealistic and highly optimistic developers initiate with the hardware development first. It would be the biggest mistake. Don’t do that. Ever.

10. Looks should be trendy and cool

Again it may not sound a big deal, but who will buy a product if it is not matching the trend?

Youngsters are going to be the prime customers. Definitely, they like cool and trending designs. When they invest in something, it should be worth that value. Of course, the prime focus should be a designing system, but with that, it should also reflect in the outlook of the device.

Design the device that is trendy, stylish, eye-catching plus informative and useful. Take an example of Apple watch, again, the interface is simple, very few bells and whistles, and has clean lines.

Over to you:

No matter how difficult or challenging the process seems to be from a distance, the only solution to cope up with developing niche apps for wearables is to keep investing time in design, functionality, testing and thereby keep analyzing use cases.

More or less, your goal with the wearable apps should be to cater the users with a smooth transition from a mobile device to a wearable device that delivers nothing but valuable experience.

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