Perhaps the most disconcerting part of the Apple Watch demo was the familiarity of its feature set: check stock prices, count steps, send messages, pull up a flight schedule and boarding pass, open the door to a hotel room when you’re nearby, or the garage door at home when you’re far away. Its ordinariness is a compelling disguise: these are mostly things that people do very occasionally (but would like to do more often), a set of services that only a few people call upon with regularity.1
Extrapolate it to a way of life, and you get Monocle World, the compressed and blurry domain of the constantly-travelling executive, where the latest connected local service can always be close at hand, but the people you love are most often at a distance.
The mobile internet is the internet of motion, defined by mapping and directions, activity tracking, travel schedules, GoPro, Passbook and Uber. We have been given GPS receivers and three-axis accelerometers and proximity sensors for our pockets and purses, and the things we build for them urge us to keep moving. They are optimised to tell us that we’re not where we want to be: miles from our destination, steps from our daily goal, seconds from our personal best, an immeasurable distance from our rose-gold aspirations.
What, then, does the internet of rest look like? (More than just Netflix, surely.) How does it speak to us, and how do we address it? (More than just a listening box, surely.) What does it demand of us — or more importantly, what does it refrain from demanding? That’s the challenge for those who wish to bring the Internet of Things to the home: to draw upon the power of mobile devices without being beholden to their restive hardware.
There’s also a jagged juxtaposition in Jony Ive’s celebration of metal and machining put to the service of the ever-more intangible. Neo-Futurism: all that is alloy melts into air.↩