Astronauts have long had a watch as part of their equipment, with famous examples being the Omega Speedmaster. NASA, however, is hoping to take the intelligence of those watches to the next level, and has started a contest for the best smartwatch app design for astronauts.
The winning app designer will get $1,500. The competition was posted to Freelancer, with the request saying that NASA wants an app that can be used by astronauts on the International Space Station.
"We (NASA) are interested in the emerging world of smartwatch technology and are looking to leverage this technology to create a smartwatch app that could be helpful to astronauts," says NASA in the posting. "The challenge is to design the general user interface for smart watch applications for use on the International Space Station."
Basically, the app would be used to display important information to astronauts as they move around the ISS. The space agency also included a number of examples of things that need to be viewable on the app, including an agenda-type view of the crew's Timeline, which is currently displayed on an iPad or laptop. There should also be color-coded alerts and warnings as well as communication status, detailing whether or not the crew is in communication with Earth. Timers will also allow the crew to time how long it takes them to complete certain tasks.
The functions should be easy to access and should work well on a Samsung Galaxy Gear, supposedly the smartwatch of choice for NASA astronauts, with the Gear 2 as the hardware reference point. Participants should keep in mind that maximum efficiency is important, and the easier it is for astronauts to access the information they need, the better.
It's important to note that participants in the Freelancer posting don't actually have to make the app. Instead, they are tasked with designing the app's user interface. What this means is that a graphic designer could enter and win the competition without any experience in coding apps, although that experience might be helpful in designing the interface.
The deliverables for the contest need to be in either JPEG or PNG format, according to the posting. The contest will run for four weeks and is currently on day 1.
It is likely that we will continue to see the expansion of wearable tech into different professional applications rather than only for consumer use. The impact that wearable tech could have on productivity certainly is big.