I’ve had my Apple Watch for almost 6 months now. At first, I was reluctant to even consider one, because watches are round. Rectangular watches aren’t appealing to my eye. They still aren’t. Even as I’m writing this, glancing down at my wrist reveals this smooth-edged eyesore, and I cringe.
But – I’ve managed to overcome most of my style aversion thanks to the cleverness of the device itself.
There’s a litany of reviews for the Apple Watch – this isn’t one of them. What I find really intriguing about the device is the activity circles, which is what I want to speak to now. Namely, the “Time to Stand” circle, and the reminder that comes along with it.
For those who don’t have the device, the Apple Watch is designed to monitor your activity on a regular basis, and if you haven’t stood up for the last 50 minutes (from 9:00-9:50am, for instance), the watch will provide a little alert encouraging you to move around for a minute. When you do this, you fill in 1/12th of your “Stand” circle. Arguably, the easiest of the “circles” to fill, given that all you have to do is stand. This is all premised on the idea that sitting down is unhealthy in the long run. Seems legit.
What’s interesting to me about this, however, is the implication that this kind of thinking has on our lives moving past something as fundamental as standing up.
The first thing that I find interesting is that this is a baked-in application which is practically core to the Apple Watch. If you don’t care about the activity monitors, the case for acquiring one of these devices can’t be that large. This is a fitness device first-and-foremost as far as I can tell. But, as with many Apple devices, you don’t pay for a subscription to access this function. It’s included in the hardware, which is somewhat refreshing.
It’s an agent. It acts on your behalf to make you do something that you might otherwise not even know you weren’t doing. In this case: Standing up. I have absolutely no idea how much I’ve stood or sat in my lifetime, but I’m sure I should be more active than I’ve been in the past. The watch is now my standing agent, which is a role I didn’t even know I needed.
This line of thinking has now got me working on asking this question: What other agents should we be building? If an agent can help me live a healthier life by standing, doing some jogging, and encouraging me to hit calorie goals — where else can I be influenced by something working in my best interests?
I think there are huge swathes of opportunity and I think this premonition of the “bot” economy will start to tip into an “agency” economy. Already, robo-advisors are displacing small but meaningful chunks of the financial services sector. But I think finance is just one of the areas that will be transformed by this emerging capability. How about an amusement agent that figures out how to keep principals entertained while trying new things? How about this whole grocery-delivery thing coming full circle to a nutrition agent which identifies healthy food options and creates new recipes, orders take-out, suggests restaurants, and communicates with my exercise & activities agent? How about mental health agents who are able to connect you with friends in richer ways, including prompts to say hello, ways to meet new people, and checkpoints for all sorts of other indicators and outcomes?
The 3-circles on the Apple watch activities app could be a waning fad, or they could be a harbinger of a future where we’re all working to fill the circles and improve our lives in many ways. I’m optimistic to see where this all takes us.
~ As an aside – this is my first writing in a long time. I’m hoping to get back to it, so stay tuned for more. This was more of a “knock the cobwebs off and go for it” moment. Thanks for reading! ~