I can’t wait to get my hands on an Apple Watch, but there are a few people out there who are less than excited by the prospect of a miniature computer you can wear on your wrist. Case in point: exam moderators.
Ahead of the Apple Watch going on sale, universities in the U.K. are beginning to issue blanket bans on students wearing any kind of watch in the exam hall — based on the fact that those teachers charged with overseeing exams aren’t able to discern the difference between a smartwatch, which could be potentially used to help cheat, and a regular, dumb, tells-the-time watch.
In place, universities are said to be stocking up on small desk clocks for any students who want them. Presumably, said clocks will be disappointedly app-free.
This kind of behavior isn’t new, of course. The arrival of cellphones meant that moderators had to rethink exam policies, by asking students to leave their mobile devices at home, or else turn them off and place them in a plastic bag under their desk. It’s likely that Apple Watches will join them there.
For me, what’s so interesting about this is what it says about Apple and the mainstream awareness of technology. Smartwatches have been around for years (you can check out our history of them here), but it wasn’t until Apple announced it was entering the wearables market that people suddenly start to sit up and pay attention.
There’s good reason for this, too: at the end of last year, research firm IHS predicted that the Apple Watch will help swell the wearable tech market to an astonishing 7x its present size by the year 2019. If that number turns out to be accurate, it’s no longer going to be the odd techie who wears smartwatches, but rather your average student. Currently, around four-fifths (82%) of new university and college students are thought to own a smartphone, while at least 20% have a tablet. If the Apple Watch follows those kind of trends, that’s a whole lot of wrists for exam moderators to check.
And the exam hall’s not the only place the Apple Watch promises to cause problems, either. Motoring experts in the U.K. have warned that individuals caught checking their Apple Watch while driving will face the same penalties as they would for using a smartphone.
Given that virtually all of these lawmakers haven’t even glimpsed an Apple Watch in person yet, we’re sure that more challenging use-cases will emerge as we draw closer to the device’s launch.