Is wearable tech the next big thing?

| October 3, 2013 | 38 Replies


It started when the first rumours of the Apple ‘smartwatch’ were surfacing (again) earlier this year, the thought was strengthened when it became clear it was Samsung that was making a wearable piece of technology. And now with the reviews of said Samsung device and ever so slight rumours about a Nokia ‘smartwatch’ it reached a certain point with me, do we need this kind of thing? Is this really where we are headed or is it the 3D TV of 2013/2014?

Many technology writers have climbed their pens, well keyboards mostly, to proclaim that the smartwatch is the next great product, after the tablet, that will go mainstream. But why? What functional role does a smartwatch fulfil? Ok, so it can display messages real quick, show you how many emails you have unread, see that new follower you have or even be capable of returning a call, albeit that last part is ridiculously 1980’s Knight Rider.

‘What functional role does a smartwatch fulfil?’

It isn’t even so much the functionality that a smartwatch might house, it is also about the way a device like that looks. Most examples out there today look like what it is, a piece of technology that is fulfilling a function rather than a piece of style or even art you wear on your wrist to express yourself or complement your style. It is always there and most of the time in plain sight as well. This is where the smartwatch fails, there are semi-good looking examples, but they are still bound by design limits because of what they need to house inside of a smartwatch.


What would you rather have? Left or right?

Okay, so my opinion won’t hold true to non-watch wearers or those who just couldn’t be bothered by what is on their wrist. The latter group is perhaps the small group that buys a smartwatch, the first, however, is an interesting group. Would these people actually wear any kind of watch? Be it smart or dumb. That is a key part to the whole smartwatch idea, if one doesn’t like wearing a watch why would he or she opt to wear an even heavier piece of equipment on their wrist when it doesn’t even fulfil any real kind of function? I happen to like a well-designed watch, but even I wouldn’t like to wear one day in day out, so would a non-watch wearer want to do that with a smartwatch?

‘These devices, future or now, have certain size constraints.’

In all honesty I am writing this from my very own personal perspective and I could very well miss the golden opportunity that these smartwatches have. However, as it stands now I fail to see the real benefit. These devices, future or now, have certain size constraints. Looking at the Galaxy Gear makes it quite obvious, it is about the maximum size that is possible without going into the abnormally large analog watch territory. So what does that give a user? A smallish 1.5-1.7 inch screen, a very small battery and a rather polarizing design to boot. While the design is a matter of opinion and personal taste the other two aren’t.

The small screen only allows a user to do just so much. There are  just so many lines of text that can be displayed and still be readable and interaction with the device is limited as small screen targets can’t be interacted with without hitting other elements. Not only that, what point does a smartwatch serve if you still need to pull out your phone to properly read or reply to messages? But that probably isn’t even the most annoying thing about having a smartwatch, that would be if you have to charge it every night, like (yes) the Samsung one.

‘…there will probably be a market for these kind of things…’

There are good point to the smartwatch idea. It can really become a complementary device to your phone, but only if certain functions like voice commands become better so you could just dictate a message without ever having pull out your phone. And Microsofts TellMe isn’t up to do that just yet, maybe Cortana can help in that area. Nevertheless, there will probably be a market for these kind of things, just like there are people buying phablets there will also be those that will buy these watches. But are they the most sensible thing ever made? Or the next best thing to take the market by storm? No, not right now.


Category: Nokia

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