Today I was reviewing a spy watch send to me by its retailer in Stockholm. Since it’s not an official review I cannot disclose names, but the watch itself seems to be one of those white label products with no name so here I just refer to it as the watch. It is an ordinary analogue wrist watch which can record 30fps HD video, take photos (5MPix) and record audio. It has 8GB storage and can be connected to computer via USB as a standard mass storage device.
The manual doesn’t have a good quality and apparently is directly translated from Chinese to English using Google Translate! Moreover the pictures and buttons in the manual didn’t look like the watch they came with and there is no “green light” in the user interface –only red, blue and violet!
So after taking a quick look, I started trying different ways to make it work. After about a long drudgery, I finally managed to decrypt it. There are several issues with this product (like recording the clock tick-tick and having literally 2 fake hands) but this post is specifically about the perception for the video recording and photo taking functionality.
For the sake of simplicity let’s have a simpler picture of the watch:
- If you hold button A for 3 seconds, it turns on the spy features. Holding it 3 seconds turns the spy features off.
- When the spy feature is on:
- Photo: if you press button B, it will take a picture. The LED flashes red once while taking the photo.
- Audio: if you hold button B, it will record an audio. You can stop it by pressing B. The LED blinks red while recording.
- Video: if you press button A, it will record video. You can stop it by holding button A (pressing A while recording, doesn’t do anything. Pressing or holding B doesn’t doe anything either). The LED blinks blue 3 times at the start of recording (and also with neutral key press or hold of button B)
OK, it may sound simple but took me about 10 minutes of trial and error to understand it in a way that I can write about it.
It seems button A has two irrelevant functions (mapping issue):
- Turn on the spy functionality
- Start recording
Except bad documentation and low production quality, the challenge of designing a spy watch is interestingly big. The limited space to put buttons and LEDs make it quite hard to have a good feedback and mapping. Also the nature of spy tools make feedback less subtle or cryptic. However, the functionality of this watch can be improved for a better user experience.
We have two buttons. It’s hard to add one more button to this watch (there is one place on the right bottom) but considering that it’s a water proof watch, it’s probably expensive to add one more button. But LEDs are quite cheap and my solution adds only two more of them.
There will be 3 LEDs for indicating which function is being used:
- One LED for Video
- One LED for Photo
- One LED for Audio
Each LED has a little icon next to it clearly indicating its function. All LED’s turn red when that function is active (no blue, no violet, no blinking). When the spy feature is off, all LEDs are off as well.
The two buttons are used like this:
- Button B starts/stops recording (in case of photo it just snaps the photo). When it is recording, the corresponding LED blinks.
- Button A selects the spy feature. Just like an ordinary computer watch this button rotates around different functionalists:
- first press: Video recording LED is on
- second press: Photo taking LED is on
- third press: Audio recording LED is on
This is how it looks:
I didn’t have too much time to design perfect icons, but I believe it’s descriptive enough to convey the idea.