Smartwatches! Ratio’s latest design challenge

If you could design a new Smart Watch from scratch how would you do it? That was the question posed to the Ratio design team for our first internal competition. We were given free reign to make a concept for a Smart Watch interface without having to worry about pesky real-world limitations like budget, usability issues, or “is this even possible?”

In pursuit of a reward for winning we all dove into our concepts, going wildly different directions. Some conceptualized how Google or Apple might interpret their mobile operating systems on a wearable device, while others focused closer on single apps that could provide value to the device and utilize the small space to do fun things. In the end we had a great spread of ideas that made us think a lot more about wearables and what they can (or should) do.

Wearables seem inevitable at this point, but there are a lot of open questions about how valuable they’ll be. We all seemed to be somewhat skeptical of Smart Watches at the onset but came around a bit once the project was done. Our biggest challenges seemed to be around how to make them useful without simply scaling down a mobile phone experience. They needed to embrace the small form-factor and the unobtrusive spot they occupy on the wrist. The trouble is, nobody knows yet how people will interact with their Smart Watch, what they expect from them, or what the social impact it may have. We also needed to have a succinct, exciting concept that could grab attention and convey its importance in a quick 4-minute pitch to the company.

Once we all presented, everyone at Ratio voted on their favorite concept to choose the winner. In the end, the Smart Band concept won. Its unique shape allowed it to be worn by both men and women, as well as providing enough screen space for multiple widgets that could provide information at a glance.


smartband Ratio Smartwatch concept

Smart Band – Matt Flores

A wrist-band shape seeks to avoid making a watch too small for men and too large for women. In addition to this, a longer screen allows for more real-estate to present novel interactions and more information at a time.



Instaclock – Aaron Johnson

Instagram on your watch! By utilizing your Instagram feed, you can have beautiful, scrolling backgrounds for your watch that come straight from your friends and family.



Session – Ryan Hoback

An app made just for surfers. Wearers can view weather and surf conditions, as well as have all of their movements and statistics tracked so you can be a better surfer in no time.



Another Smart Watch concept – Cooper Crosby

By thinking through essential interaction concepts, and defining useful gestures Cooper made a version of Android Wear that Google should be jealous of. He made sure to think through the actual way that someone would use a UI on their wrist, while making it simple and beautiful.



evlos Ratio Smartwatch concept

EVLOS – Matthias Bushy

The calculator watch of the future! This Smart Watch app allows someone to quickly draw out math problems with their finger and then let the watch do all the work.



orca Ratio Smartwatch concept

Orca – Andrea La Valleur-Purvis

Smart commuting starts with the orca smartwatch app. It lets the user avoid digging through their pocket or purse while they’re hopping on the bus or ferry. You can pay or reload your card any time with just a couple taps.



powdr Ratio Smartwatch concept

Powdr – Caylee Betts

Powdr is a snow sport focused activity app for Moto 360 that introduces an innovative social component that allows you to stay synced with your friends on the mountain.



uber Ratio Smartwatch concept

Uber – Bart Claeys

This concept seeks to understand how existing apps could be restructured for quick use on the wrist. They can call a cab with a few simple gestures without ever having to unlock their phone.


Article By Matt Flores, UI Designer