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I predicted the modern smartwatch for a project in 8th grade and was ridiculed

Okay, maybe ridiculed is an exaggeration, but no one believed it would happen.

At Duke TiP summer camp after 7th grade, I took a course on Mechanical Engineering Problem Solving. Our final project was to come up with either a new product or improvements on a current product. We would do research, design graphics for it, and eventually give a 10 minutes presentation on our product.

I decided to make improvements to watches, mostly because I liked my waterproof watch and wore it all the time. At the time of writing this, smart watches didn't exist yet. The first modern-ish smart watches were shown at CES in 2014, and the Apple watch wasn't released until 2015. So all of the ideas in my presentation were original and not inspired by the technology we now consider commonplace.

Remember, this was before smartphones were common. A few friends had phones with touchscreens, but they were few and far between.

I included a lot of improvements to the watch, including many (most) features that we now see in modern smart watches. These improvements include

  • Calculator - "The watch’s screen could be a touch screen and have a stylus built into the strap"

  • Music player

  • Cell phone

  • Camera

  • Rechargeable batteries

  • Compass

  • Screen protector - "Multiple layers of thin plastic on the screen for whenever it gets scratched"

  • Alarm

  • Waterproof

  • Accurate prediction of price range - "With all these new features the price would also go up. This watch would probably cost about $300 if not more."

  • Accurate prediction of awkwardness - "If you were using it to call someone it would be very awkward for you. Your would have to hold it to your ear in a weird way or take the watch off. Taking it off would be much easier for the phone call but more trouble."

The only things I included in my design that we haven't seen in smartwatches yet are a thermometer, and flexible electronics. I think we will probably see flexible electronics over the next few years, but so far companies have just packed everything in the face of the watch and left the strap as plastic.

All of this seems feasible today, but I distinctly remember most people in the class saying it all seemed impossible and infeasible. They said that we couldn't fit all that into a watch, or if we did that the battery life would be horrible.

I'm a little salty but also very proud that I accurately predicted so many changes to watches when I was going in to 8th grade.

You can view/download my original tacky powerpoint here: GoogleDriveLink

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