Category Archives: Technology

Not on my watch – why smart watches are a foolish idea

Smart phones! We’ve practically all got one, right? Hell, nowadays it’s pretty hard to see how we lived without them… The ability to pull a phone out and instantly look something up on the web, take a high quality picture or play a fancy new game nigh-on instantly is just so natural to us now it would be weird if it wasn’t there. And in the fiercely competitive world of smart phones and smart devices in general the real fight is always to pull out the latest hot innovation, the one that makes everyone drop what they are doing and rush out to buy it straight away. Up until now stuff like voice recognition and other such fancy features haven’t really succeeded in pulling that off. But never fear, because the brains beehind the gadgets say they have finally cracked it! They’ve created… The smart watch!

Shame the idea is a bit rubbish, really.

One tells the time quick and easy. The other's a smart watch.

One tells the time easily. The other’s a smart watch.

Allow me to explain my point of view; the point of a watch, to me, is to give you the ability to quickly and easily tell the time. That’s pretty much it. People in the market for buying a watch are buying a watch for that very reason. They aren’t looking for a watch that can take pictures, or make phone calls, or anything like that – especially when the smart phone that they most likely have easy access to in their pocket can do all that anyway. It’s the time we all want, and you don’t need a fancy display or anything like that to pull that off. True, it’s possible to argue that the point of phones was only ever to communicate with each other, but the reality is at their core that’s all they still do. It may be via texts or Twitter, but the very essence of the idea has not been changed. With a smart watch, the whole essence of the idea seems to be ripped away without a care in the world.

That’s not to mention the way smart watches seem destined to operate is all a bit weird too. For the easiest example of what I’m talking about I’m going to refer to the recently announced Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch, the first watch truly revealed by one of the power players. It’s nice enough to look at, but you only have to start scratching at the surface to see the cracks beginning to show. For one, you have to press a button to actually see the time in the first place, nulling the whole “easy access to the time” thing that watches tend to do so well. This is only worsened further by the fact it’s yet another piece of kit that you have to plug in every night, which is kind of more hassle than it seems to be worth.

Yet then you start to go further into looking at it, and it starts to get even more absurd. My ‘favourite’ feature is the fact that when you go to make a call to someone you have to raise the arm you are wearing the watch on and act like you are holding an invisible phone, while is a gesture more suitable to a bad paradoy of phone calls than something you would willingly do in public to actually make one. The real icing on the cake, however, is that to access a lot of the features like making calls your need an actual Android device itself, making your fancy new smart watch a mere accessory to whatever other device you have to carry around. Therefore, really, what is the point in splashing out the money for one if that device does everything the watch does anyway? It just seems to be a foolish anf frivilous waste of money.

Of course, to be reasonable, the Samsung Galaxy Gear is but one upcoming smart watch out there, and the concept as a whole is still taking its first tentative steps out into the sunlight. Other devices such as the Qualcomm Toq seem to be tackling the issues of battery usage and convenience, and with the deep rumbling rumours of an iWatch heading our way who knows what devices announced in the near future may be capable of doing. But the whole concept still sits uneasy with me – I like my watch, and all the discussion about smart watches recently has only made me want to put on my old trusty timepiece ‘instead of making glances at my phone to achieve the same result. There may be a day in the future where everyone#s got a smart watch on, and you won’t be able to walk around without seeing someone tapping away madly at their wrist. Right now, though? I don’t think now is the time…