Sure getting stock information and Outlook calendar events on your watch are cool but what can you really do with this technology. Time for the also ran’s.
Towards the end of the MSN Direct lifespan there was a call to find new uses for the data stream. Several companies jumped in and came up with some interesting ideas. Let’s start with Melitta’s Smart Brew. The idea seems kind of bright. In the morning while you are brewing your first cup of coffee you would want to know what weather to get ready for. It worked fine but sales were slow while users tried to digest this idea of convergence.
One that made a bit more sense came from Oregon Scientific. These devices would allow you to get your local weather two ways. First from the onboard sensors this would be augmented by the five day forecast received over MSN Directs FM signal. This sold well enough to even justify an upgraded second generation.
During the life of the watches we saw a traffic channel added that allowed us to get our local traffic while were driving along. This was a test for the next stage of Direct’s life span. Adding traffic support to a GPS only seems logical by integrating the two you can reroute around traffic slowdowns automatically. Even with the death of the Direct feed you still see this as an option on newer GPS units. They are the legacy of the FM data services and receive the information over FM just the same as before.
As we have seen over this series of articles Microsoft seemed to have hit a nerve with this technology. There was a need for this but not really a desire for it. The biggest failure was still in the sales channel where the companies just didn’t know how to sell these devices. Now all of these devices sit and gather dust watching modern cell phones replace their functionality.