Project Depth

This project was about making the smart watch experience better for people who love real mechanical watches. Smart watches are great, but digital watch faces are very flat due to the 2 dimensional screen. I worked together with other watch enthusiasts to create the illusion of 3D depth on the 2D flat screen. 

Through tests we discovered that users couldn’t really explain the problem, but usually they said that watch faces are “flat”, like a sticker. So the question was: what makes the real watch look “3D”? The answer is: wrist movement and the layered structure inside the watch. 

Real watch UX usually starts with arm lifting and wrist rotating, so we can see the watch face. And that’s exactly when we see the bits within the watch “moving” relative to each other, which is nothing else than the 3 dimensional depth within the watch.

After some sketches the conclusion was that a method called “parallax scroll” linked to the accelerometer inside the watch could work. That means when the watch is on the wrist, and the wrist is rotated (i.e. the user wants to see the time), a sensor in the watch picks up that rotation.

Using that data we can move the layers of the digital watch face. To make it “3D” we just need to move the different layers with different speed relative to their place in the 3D depth structure.

The final result is impressive, and most users found it very realistic, and better user experience compared to the flat designs they’ve seen before.