I always wanted a watch that shoots lasers, but I'll settle for shooting wine from my wrists. Samsung recently unveiled the Galaxy Gear Smartwatch, and with it, Copenhagen-based Vivino could finally share the app they created for the new technology. The South Korean manufacturer selected Vivino to bring their smartphone app to people's wrists, which sounds like a cool use-case of both companies technologies.
Vivino's app allows users to take a picture of a wine bottle, and then uses some computer vision technology to match up the wine to Vivino's database, giving users information on the style of wine, ratings, and other fun things like letting you see on google maps where the wine is grown. Rather than helping you find new bottles of wine at the wine store, Vivino targets their app to help you remember your favorite vintages you're already tried. Theres a huge overlap of people interested in wine and people interested in new gadgets, which explains Samsung's enthusiasm to put Vivino pre-installed on all watches.
”I think Samsung could see the sex appeal in shooting labels from your wrist and discretely read all about the wine. It’s definitely a show off, but in the end also of great value for the consumers,” says Theis Søndergaard, COO and Co-Founder of Vivino.
The project was an interesting one to pull off, where a unique version of the app had to be made in two months, and under total secrecy. Only a small group of people within Vivino were informed about the project, and the project took place in a small room in the Vivino offices dubbed "the bunker".
”Immediately, we literally went into a James Bond mode, by putting up three pictures of the secret agent on the walls in the secret office – known as the bunker among colleagues – used for the purpose of the project. First of all it’s a fun reference, but we did it also to remind us about the confidentiality around the project. And – I’m sure Q could have given an arm wrist like this to James Bond,” continues Søndergaard.
When the device arrived from Samsung, they had to keep security high, keeping it in a safe and having the blinds drawn when it was out.
For developers looking at building apps on new technologies, they came across a few challenges, such as Samsung constantly chaining their control system of the watch. "What worked on day did not function next morning,” says Søndergaard. "Obviously they were too in the middle of testing the product, so we just had to follow up"
They learned some lessons about developing on Smartwatches, which may become a new important market for app makers. One obvious problem is that the form factor of the screen is tiny compared to today's huge shiny smartphone screens. So that means cutting screen real estate, and cutting features to streamline the product.
That's a somewhat obvious challenge, but it's also important to consider that if a user is interacting with a smart watch, they have both hands tied up, and can't interact with anything else in the world, like hold a wine bottle up to the light.
For developers interested in creating smartphone apps, they've put together an interesting and informative blogpost here.