While Samsung is out touting its wares in the smartwatch category, an unlikely colleague is sharing the attention in the emerging market. Nismo, Nissan’s racing development team, has taken the idea of a smartphone watch and fine-tuned the technology to aid and improve the driving experience. The challenges that face Nismo in this concept watch are instantly clear. In a vehicle, the real estate to house any technology — no matter how complex — is readily available somewhere in the car. Can Nismo really pack impressive and useful features into a wristwatch?
Staying “Connected” … to the Road
The language of connectivity has infiltrated our lives. It is only natural that developers of technology proceed down the path of increasing connectivity. So how can this smartwatch improve on the driving experience through enhanced “connectivity”? The press release shows the screen of the watch alerting the driver to icy conditions in the road. Will the driver need to take their eyes off the road and a hand off the wheel to read that warning?
Luckily, no. The watch is able to connect via Bluetooth. However, reading the press release, it is hard to find a feature in this watch that is not already available in most new cars. The only feature the watch can possibly offer that is unique is a reading of the driver’s heart rate. While that is a fun feature to show your friends, it is not something that any driver will rely on. The unimpressive list of features for the watch include reading and displaying fuel consumption, average speed and performance data.
Nissan invented a system to monitor and display that — and much more — when they released the GTR. That system, modeled after features from the best-selling video game franchise “Gran Tourismo,” is still revolutionary. It is also displayed right in front of the driver on a beautiful touchscreen. Why wouldn’t Nissan just redesign a slightly less expensive central display that utilized that technology? That system recorded everything from g-force to tire pressure. It literally is the epitome of keeping the driver connected to the road.
Funding Wearable Technology the Enzo Ferrari Way
“Wearable Technology” is a broad category that has been around a long time. It’s also the only category that is perpetually experimental. Nissan’s marketing director Gareth Dunsmore says that wearable technology is growing fast and they want in. Great, but then the three key technologies they point to for further development are all geared towards improving Nissan’s racing team. Dunsmore claims this watch was created to “enhance” the experience of “Nismo ownership.” But it’s reminiscent of Enzo Ferrari’s motivation to sell road cars; he did it only to fund his race team. Since the Nismo driving team stands to gain the most, the motivation may not be far off.