The 6 R’s of helpful wearable design

After checking out the design principles of Android Wear, I found myself thinking particularly about the third principle, “Helpful”. Certainly in UX design a product needs to be helpful before anything else. But what does it mean to build helpful experiences for wearables, specifically?

<>To me, it seems that helpful wearable devices or wearable apps would do the following (the “6 R’s”):


Wearables are well-positioned to track various pieces of data. They can make a person’s life easier by recording information that may have previously been tracked manually (fitness trackers being a prime example of this).


Reminders can be proactive (the device acting with its own agency) or reactive (the device acting in response to an explicitly-set alarm). In either case, wearables can use a person’s context and expectations to prepare her for upcoming situations.


A good wearable, especially if serving a reminder, should recommend the best course of action for the situation at hand.


A well-designed experience is responsive (something the Android Wear principles mention). The wearable device should react quickly when its owner wants to do/see something. This includes not just speed of response, but accessibility of interaction mechanisms.


A helpful device should recognize if it’s improving a person’s behavior. It should reinforce these good changes in appropriate ways (positive messaging, etc).


(This is also called out as an Android Wear sub-principle). A wearable device should be humble and remember that it is another accessory in an ecosystem, not the only voice in the room. Respect a person’s boundaries, her other devices, as well as the people around her.