Smart Watches – Cool, but Not Must Have Tech

Smartphones, smart watches… how much smart tech do we have to have?

I don’t know of any peers that don’t have a cell phone. Of those that do, I don’t know of anyone with a clamshell or candy bar phone any longer. It’s all iOS, Android or Windows Phone from what I can tell, with a smattering of Blackberry flavors here and there. Recently, Ars Technica got their hands on a Pebble Smart Watch, and this sparked a bunch of debate among my friends –

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  • Is this the next big thing?
  • Do I need one of these?
  • Why do I need one of these?
  • Where’s the value for something that costs almost $200 after tax?

These are all good questions. Here’s my take on the whole smart watch deal.

Checking the time on your phone is much like using a pocket watch. the same actions and paradigms apply in that regard.

The big deal with smart watches is the notifications your smartphone receives. A smart watch sitting on your wrist is going to vibrate or notify you of the incoming event. It’s not as easy to miss as the buzzing of your silenced phone might be. However, the thing I have to ask myself is where is the MUST have functionality. There’s a reason why smartphones are everywhere – they provide an essential piece in the new, always on, “I’m [tweeting] from the toilet in the new edition of my house,” totally 150% accessible, communications paradigm.

It used to be that if the person you were calling wasn’t home, the phone rang 10 times, you hung up, and you called back later. Then answering machines took over and my mother-in-law could fill up an entire 30 minute tape with messages. Then paging, two-way paging, email, text messages, occasional phone calls and then the “checking in from the potty in the new edition…” thing. Awesome.

the difference between the smartphone and the smart watch is that the phone provides the critical yet portable communications hub that most everyone has or feels they need. The smart watch may enhance that experience, but it doesn’t do much more than that; and I’m not certain that its design will support much more than JUST that.

getting your notifications may be important, especially if you’re talking about mission critical, work related emails, but you have to ask yourself, “do I REALLY need to know [someone’s] exact location every time they do their business (what EVER that may be)?” do I have to get every text message, every email; or is it ok if I miss a few and pick them up later?

there’s something here… However, I’m not entirely certain what it is yet. But I’m not convinced that insuring that notifications are received/viewed is the primary reason or need for this type of device. Telling time – even an approximation of time – its [about] “a quarter after 5pm,” I can really live without.

Anything else it might do – like the Johnny Sokko video watch thing might be cool, but it’s not a must have feature. In fact, there’s not much else that a tool like this could do, aside from function as a remote for my iPhone while it plays audio (so I don’t have to pull the phone out of my jacket or bag), but even that can be handled by headphones…

Where are the must have uses, applications (not apps/programs) that a tool like this provides? That’s what’s going to make a tool like this successful. Unfortunately, I just don’t see the gaping hole, and just don’t know if this has any real staying power.

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