Like me, you have most probably noticed obsession with smart watches from all major hardware vendors. Samsung is desperately trying to sell us their smart watch(es), people are speculating Apple is designing their iWatch for ages, there are bunch of kickstarters with smart bracelets, hell even Razer and Nike made one. The question here is, do we even want or better, need one?
I love technology as I’m surrounded with it on all ends. One PC, a laptop, Windows tablet, Android smart phone and I’m also surrounded by watches that I also totally love to use. So, naturally I should be the first one to love these gizmos. But I really don’t. Not yet in their current form.
Why? Let me guide you through a couple of reasons…
What exactly are smart watches? Because currently, they are neither. Smart or watch. What makes them “smart”? The fact that they display you a notification of a received SMS on a phone that you have in your pocket? Or an e-mail? People always back this feature up with excuse that you can’t always take a smart phone out of your pocket during a meeting or some other business activity where it’s not polite to play with your phone. Great. You get a notification for an SMS or e-mail. But, aren’t SMS messages and e-mails, by their core design, well, designed to remain on your phone even if you don’t notice them at first, so you can basically read them AFTER the meeting? What good is it to know that you’ve received an e-mail if you can’t bloody read it because the phone is in your pocket and you’re not suppose to take it out? And yes, I know some “smart watches” display first few lines of SMS or e-mail, but still, you are on a meeting where you most likely can’t leave anyway. So, knowing something during a meeting or knowing the same info after the meeting makes absolutely no difference to the end result. If you’re expecting something important, like your girlfriend/wife giving birth to a baby, you won’t even bother silencing your phone in the first place (I know I wouldn’t). So there goes that “smart” part of these watches out of the window. Besides, looking at your watch (they don’t know it’s “smart” one) too regularly during meeting or other similar activity would give impression to others that you’re bored to death and you’re just counting down the minutes till you can leave. Might be even worse than poking your phone around…
The other part is being a watch. For example, quartz watches from Citizen using solar power from Eco-Drive are superior time keeping devices. Or solar powered Casio G-Shocks. They display time, day and date with absolute precision, especially those atomic models. And because they are solar, they require zero maintenance and last forever. Can smart watches do that? Nope.
Next thing wrong about them is that you can’t possibly use them for voice communication. Talking into a watch for voice commands might look cool for a closed group of friends who might joke around that you’re 007 (James Bond), but for other 99% of people, you’ll just end up looking like a dork who’s talking to his watch. And actually using them as a phone would make you look even more dorky.
And what’s up with all the biometrics collection. Body temperature, heart rate, fingerprints, what’s next, our rectum temperature probe and retina scanner? Exhaled CO2 emissions? Seriously? How would any of it be useful for anything other than strictly medical use only when necessarily required by the patient? It’s not that far away from stamping our credit card PIN on our forehead and hand over all our private data to the insurance companies. It’s not that bad here in Slovenia, but I know life insurance is absolutely mad in the US of A even now, without all these gadgets being massively used, imagine what would it be if they could gather all this data. And they’d love to get their hands on all your health biometrics, trust me on that. It’s hell awaiting to erupt and people aren’t even aware of it. No, I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists, but I still find this a bit concerning in general.
For now I’ll stick with good old “dumb” watches that only tell the time, day and date. Or just the first one. And keep my smartphone dedicated for the rest of the tasks. If you want something different, sort of smart watch looking but without the crappy actual smart watch part, throw an eye at Phosphor World Time or Touch Time watches. They are curved and use e-ink to display time. They look pretty cool. Or the mad CST-01 from Central Standard Timing (CST) e-ink bracelets. Thinnest ever watches ever to be made in the whole world that use super thin rechargeable battery that lasts for a whole month after a 20 minute charge. Sure, it only displays time, but it’s really good at doing that. And keep the rest of the tasks to your existing smart phone.