Now, I love a good gadget! I’m very prone to a Vic Reeves knee rub whenever I see some new sexy technology (I nearly burst when I saw the design for the new Mac Pro!). So the very idea of a smart watch being launched by Samsung
had me hooked from the moment the words were uttered. It seems we’re getting ever closer to Scotty beaming us up. The only downside for me is that in the ‘brand wars’ I side with Darth Apple. I know it sounds superficial but I’m a sucker for their style and whenever I jump on a PC the very idea that someone would rather work in a Microsoft environment drains the colour from my face, (cue the groans – but that’s a debate for another time!).
Since the introduction of Google Glass
, it seems like we’ve been hit by a run of amazing technological developments with wearable computing being the next big thing. Even though I get completely sucked in, I can’t help but wonder how this would fit into my life and what affect it would have on me. First, I became a slave to my computer. Then the phone took hold until the smartphone took over my life completely. Then I got an iPad and the remaining part of me has been left in my will (that sits on my kindle) to my wife and kids! So to now think my watch also wants a slice of my life is starting to feel a bit creepy – but not as creepy as the privacy debate that is going on. There are fears that the tiny cameras that adorn these devices could threaten the sanctity of what goes on behind closed doors, and you have to ask yourself whether you would be happy to have a not-so-private conversation ever again for fear of it being recorded, circulated, abused etc. unless you're a Monk, or Julie Andrews. Or is that just my paranoia talking? Maybe...
Aside from that, you have to question how the thing might work. When smart phones seem to be getting ever bigger for optimum usability, with marketeers considering how best to integrate the devices into their campaigns to reach their increasing user demographic, plus web sites/apps being designed to make the most of them, I wonder what I would use it for and how it would work. The previous incarnation of the iPod Shuffle had a similar size and shape and indeed, you could buy a strap that encased the device like a watch on your wrist. But those of you who ever used them will know how fiddly the tin screen was and how it was a good thing it was only used for music. How user-friendly smart watches will be, only time will tell. Thankfully it doesn't look like they intend it to become a browser on your wrist. Imagine trying to order your weekly Tesco shop on it – hell on Earth!
Another interesting angle on Samsung's product is the decision to restrict its compatibility to Galaxy products. The obvious ploy behind this is to support dropping sales of that product line, but won't that in turn have an effect on sales of the watch? Surely opening it up to even just the wider Android market would see sales of the device rocket, whereas the smart phone market, certainly in developed regions, must be saturated. One for the business analyst I suppose.
More importantly you can't talk about the new smart watch without discussing the phone feature. There's not a chance I would want to make a call in the middle of the street whilst cupping my hand to my ear. How on earth can you take that seriously? Even cheesy Captain Kirk avoided looking a complete prat when calling up Mr. Spock. I can't picture him calling for a Photon Torpedo strike whilst standing on an exotic planet in a slightly theatrical pose with his phaser in one hand and his other hand cupped to his ear making contact! It's as preposterous as a Tribble! I can just picture Covent Garden at lunchtime with the usual hustle and bustle of business people walking around looking like they are listening out for a distant noise. Not for me thank you, I'd rather use one of those eighties bricks!
I heard a technology story recently about a screen that you can screw up like paper, which leads to my final question: with this wearable computing race in full swing, what's next, iPants?!