To figure out if wearable technology like smartwatches will advance in the same way as desktop and mobile gambling has before, we have to start with availability. Prices for the Apple Watch, currently the most visible form of wearable mobile technology, are still in the range of $300 at the time of this writing, even for the smaller model. This is well outside of the range that most people are going to be willing to pay for what amounts to an extension of their iPhone. While other companies like Samsung have produced smartwatches as well, their sales haven’t been exactly awe-inspiring. So to our first point, sales are going to have to pick up before any wearable technology revolution is going to happen through the smartwatch channel.
The Biggest Obstacle to Smartwatch Gambling
Another point, and one that’s possibly more important, is that the limited size of the screen for these devices creates a more exaggerated version of the problem that mobile did originally. In the first mobile casino games, screen real estate was a major problem. Online slots and other forms of gambling were designed around large computer screens, frequently measuring thousands of pixels wide and thousands of pixels long. Smartwatches have a total screen real estate of a small fraction of that, even smaller than mobile devices, which required a complete restructuring of the interfaces for the games to make them fit on their own.
It is true that Microgaming has been developing a [very limited] number of online slots for smartwatches like the Samsung Gear and the Apple Watch. The Dark Knight, one of their most popular titles of the past several years, was one of the first to make it to the smartwatch app, and a lot of work has been done on their classic Thunderstruck to bring it to the smartwatch as well.
However, when you see screenshots of these games, however, something becomes readily apparent: Microgaming, generally regarded as the top online casino software provider and top mobile provider in the world, can’t figure out what to do about the limited amount of space either.
Alternative Applications for Smartwatches
The reality of the situation is that we’re eventually going to get to the point that it doesn’t make sense to put traditional casino games, even slots, on certain types of technology if the screen isn’t large enough. This could be the point that we’re at with the current generation of smartwatches.
Along those lines, one possibility is that industry experts have been going about this all wrong. Instead of viewing wearable technology, or the smartwatch industry as a whole, as the next in a line of devices for traditional styles of online gambling (slots, etc.), perhaps it’s best to think outside of the box and look to other forms of gambling instead.
Since these smartwatches are generally seen as a supplement to a smartphone and need a smartphone to communicate for the most part at this stage of the game, there’s no reason why the two can’t work in tandem to supplement a player’s mobile gambling experience. For example, in-play live betting is a huge part of sports betting now, and a smartwatch could be much better at giving alerts to players than a phone, especially as they seem to be getting bigger with the latest models from both Samsung and Apple.
It’s getting to the point that checking your phone is relatively tedious, so a smartwatch could be the perfect solution, delivering live game results and in-play betting opportunities on your wrist without you having to pull out your phone every few moments to see where things are at.
The Bottom Line
We also have to remember that other forms of wearable technology are in the pipeline, including Google Glass, which has also seen limited action. Microgaming also has a sports betting application for that form of wearable technology that they’ve been working on, and they’ve been expanding to try to work with smartglasses from other companies (though they’ve had little luck at the time of this writing).
Overall, we’re at a point of divergence when it comes to wearable technology. The old patterns of doing the same games on a smaller screen just aren’t going to work anymore, and software developers are going to have to come up with new ways to bet if they want to stay ahead of the hardware curve.