Here’s Hoping for a True Smart Watch
September 18, 2013

Here’s Hoping For A True Smart Watch

The technology rave this week (FYI: I’m writing this on September 12) was obviously the announcement of the iPhone 5S, 5C, and iOS 7. But those are not all that is happening in the technology world. Some of the other tech ideas are great, while others have just sort of, well, flopped. In fact, as I searched for ideas for my blog today, I came across an interesting article on National Public Radio (NPR) about one such product currently on the flop list: the smart watch.

See, earlier this year, the techno-gossip hyped the iWatch, an imaginary Apple product that was part iPhone, part watch. As of now, no such product exists, but maybe some day. Samsung, though, actually released its own version of such a device earlier in September. It is called the Galaxy Gear. The reviews were, well, less than stellar. Here’s why:

  1. It costs $299, so it is super expensive.
  2. It has a very short battery life.
  3. It just did not have enough different and interesting features.

Basically, it is a smartphone with a watch band. Not so thrilling. But many techies think that a smart watch could be fantastic. The NPR article reported about one gadget goon named Brad Feld who thinks a smart watch could be exciting because of its intimacy. Like he says, the watch touches our wrist, goes with us everywhere, and could record really great data about our lives and actions. Could is the key word here, though.

Right now, smart watches do not do much more than have phone features on the wrist. They just do not do much more of interest. But Feld hopes that soon they will. He is part of the quantified-self movement whereby participants are interested in quantifying themselves by tracking data about their actions, habits, and lives in general. As a participant, Feld uses many devices and programs to quantify himself, especially concerning running marathons, which he would like to do in every state. To quantify his actions, “He uses a Fitbit, which tracks daily activity and heart rate, and a Fitbit scale to weigh himself. A Garmin watch tracks his runs, and he wears a monitor to track oxidation in his blood. He runs blood tests quarterly and uses devices to track his sleep.”

That is a lot of technology just to track himself for marathons. Obviously, he wants a smart watch that could do all or most of that for him in one device. He could easily gather data about himself in technology that fits on his wrist.

The technology he uses thus far is working, but it is cumbersome. Furthermore, as it stands, the quantified-self technology currently uses programs from companies that have access to that data, as well. It is not protected by privacy according to the US Supreme Court. This has upset users, yet they still participate and use the technology to track their actions. And more and more quantified-self technology presents itself daily.

Despite the frustration of giving up privacy, people still want to track themselves for one reason or another. A smart watch that could help with that just might be the way to go for those who willing put their data out there.

As for me, I think I will stick with my cheap, analog watch. It might not be able to tell me how many calories I ingested or where my heart rate is, but it can tell me the time. And that technology is ageless.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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