Digital without distraction.

Nova is a hybrid smartwatch concept (and the name of one of my dogs) that solves some major issues that the current market of products face. Nova keeps the communication/notification benefits of current smartwatches but gives the user more control over how they are notified and also does so more discretely. The major issues that Nova solves are Size, Battery Life, and Distraction. These issues were discovered through interviews, reviews, and general discussion.


A major complaint from consumers is the size of the watch. Many smartwatches are often too bulky due to the components being fit into the watch. This issue is even worse for female consumers as the watch looks even more bulky on their wrists.

Battery Life

Another major complaint is that a watch's battery life shouldn’t just last a day. A regular watch can last a full year, your watch shouldn’t be useless if you forget to charge it the night before.


Many people find having another screen on your wrist as just an extension of your phone’s screen, which can be extremely distracting (and considered rude by many) if you are receiving messages when having a conversation with someone else.


Using secondary research within the product category and into emerging technologies, I created 7 product architectures. These product architectures do not all currently exist but are all feasible , each is shown with a brief description on hardware and features.  I determined I wanted to do a hybrid smartwatch that uses lights at the hour marks to notify rather than a screen for less distractions. As well using a hybrid smartwatch lowered the amount of components needed inside making the watch less bulky, and lowered power consumption as well. I did decided to have the watch powered by 2 coin cell batteries to add on to battery life even more.

Classic Smartwatch

Smartwatch with a main touchscreen for functionality and displaying information

Hybrid Smartwatch Type 1

Smartwatch with a main display screen but traditional watch hands above it, allowing for the watch face and dial to be changed.

Hybrid Smartwatch Type 2

Smartwatch with a main display screen but traditional watch hands and dial above it, allowing for information to be displayed in the center.

Hybrid Smartwatch Type 3

Smartwatch with 3 smaller displays for information. Traditional watch hands and dial.

Hybrid Smartwatch Type 4

Smartwatch using coloured areas and vibrations to signify notifications. Traditional watch hands and dial.

Hybrid Smartwatch Type 5

Smartwatch using LEDS to signify notifications. Traditional watch hands and dial.

Hybrid Smartwatch Type 6

Smartwatch using LEDS at hour marks to signify notifications. Traditional watch hands and dial.


1. Utilitarian

Watch style focused on function and durability, with a bulkier body to communicate these values.

Ex: G Shock

2. Californian

Watch style focused on function and comfort with a minimal aesthetic. The form follows the trends of minimalism and primitives.

Ex: Nixon, Minus 8

3. Eastern European

Watch style focused on elegance and simplicity. The form has a minimal aesthetic with thin markings and watch hands.

Ex: Nomos, Skagen

4. Extravagant

Watch focused on being more flash and exuberant. The form has large components that pull attention in.

Ex: Rolex, Tag Heuer

With the idea of a smartwatch being something you can wear to every occasion the style I decided on was Californian. The style is subtle enough to wear while going out for drinks and elegant enough for dressing up. Utilitarian works for everyday but looks out of place while paired with a suit or even a business casual look. Eastern European works with office attire and a suit but is too dressed up for some occasions (like the beach). Extravagant works with a suit but is too flashy and attention grabbing for everyday, it can give off the impression that the consumer is trying to flaunt their money. After deciding on the general concept, style, and components of the watch I created mood boards for where my watch would live, and who would be using it. With almost a full understanding of the different aspects of my watch I started looking into current design trends and doing CMF (Colour, Material, and Finish) research so I had an idea of what I wanted the final appearance of the watch to be for when I begin sketching.


With the problems layed out I began to sketch ideas. I like to start ideation with quick pages trying to spend around 5 minutes or less per page to quickly get many ideas onto the page to choose from. After doing a few pages of quick sketches I start doing some more proper sketches. I typically enjoy sketching in pencil the most BUT it is the most difficult to see and scans way worse than ink, so I've begun to sketch with Sharpie more, I also use the Papermate Flair very often.

Form Development

I started developing the form more using CAD and rendering as it proved to be faster to quickly see how a specific form reflects light and pulls highlights. I also found making these changes quickly in CAD very helpful and allowing me to slightly tweak forms to achieve a better reflection.

Final Watch

The final watch is a hybrid design with LEDs used to relay notifications to the user without being too distracting. There are 2 programmable buttons on the side that can be edited to fit the user's needs. I chose 3 colourways for the final design: Black and Copper, White and Rose, and "Octane" which is black with a heat treated metallic accent.

Watch Use

Most of Nova's features are programmed through the app, you can set notifications, track your activity, and set up custom commands with the buttons. The app follows the same visuals as the physical watch itself and packaging. The goal of this app was to make something minimal, interesting, and functional. Click the link below to watch a full video play-through of the app.

Initial Set Up

1. Hold Buttons

Press and hold both function buttons on the watch for 5 seconds to begin pairing.

2. Searching

Lights at 3, 6, 9, and 12 will illuminate to signal the watch is searching for a device.

3.1 Pairing Successful

All lights will briefly illuminate to signal that the watch pairing was successful.

3.2 Pairing Unsuccessful

Lights in an X formation will illuminate to signal that the watch pairing was unsuccessful.

Daily Use Commands


A Notification Light will illuminate when the correct trigger occurs.

(text, snapchat, phone call, etc.)

Clear Notifications

Default setting to clear notifications is to quickly press and release both Function Buttons to clear Notifications Lights.

(only on watch not on the phone).


Default setting for Upper Function Button.
Hold Upper Button for 5 seconds to initiate Stopwatch Mode, press button to start/stop, hold Upper Button to exit Stopwatch Mode.

Step Goal

Default setting for Lower Function Button.
Press Lower Button to see current progress on step goal. Second hand will move to show percentage of goal.