Smart Watch Apathy

It’s amazing how a rumor from what feels like ages ago stating Apple may be making a “smart watch” caused such a dramatic ripple through the tech industry. The slow, predictable attempts to beat Apple to the punch are reminiscent of the swell of news about “slate” computers just before the launch of the iPad. Trouble with this approach of course is that Apple doesn’t really wear its heart on its sleeve, who knows what direction they will take its users in.

Whenever I think about smart watches I can not help but imagine a late night infomercial selling the idea complete with black and white disaster footage of mobile phones slipping out of hands and crashing to the ground as users helplessly try to pull them out of their pocket. Smart watches are a perfect example of a forced evolution of technology. While most technology progresses naturally, attempts such as this feel as though they were born out of a lack of fresh ideas and emanates a desperation to innovate before Apple makes it’s next move. The real question in this flood of reporting and opinions on the idea that I don’t see asked enough is do we really need another hardware platform right now? I have to give credit where its due, that Android Wear propaganda video sure does make you think we do.

The problem here is that the idea of a smart watch feels dated no matter how modern you try and make its interface look. In todays market the idea is an exercise in frivolity and tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Do you really think Dick Tracy would care about his watch if he had an iPhone in his pocket? Many seem to forget that much of what has defined changes in the consumer tech market over the years are simple claims of contradicting physical attributes among competitors. Bigger, smaller, thinner, longer, stronger, faster. It is a culture of gullibility and marketed desire. New for the sake of new.

We are at a point though where there is still so much to be explored and fine tuned within existing, established platforms. Unity of data and information among devices and multiple platforms is still far from being fully efficient or reliable. The idealistic vision of future technology that most of us picture in our minds is impossible without more of a mutual respect among competing platforms.

The only concept entering the market with any honest potential for wider adoption is the continued development of activity tracking wearables and it’s not at all surprising that Apple pundits are gently nudging readers toward the idea of Apple working on something other than a screen strapped to our wrist. Seems obvious enough considering their addition of an activity tracking chip in the 5s.

While competing players in the market are more savvy and persuasive than ever before, there is still plenty of room for them to sweep all these hyperbolical concepts under the rug and latch onto whatever the mass market decides to accept ignore. Never underestimate the tech industries ability to turn a blind eye to failures.

In a world where social media has groomed us to be comfortable sharing our lives loudly it seems inevitable that semi-intrusive technology will continue to grow and take advantage of this fact over time. I’m just not sold on the idea of  smart watches both currently on the market and waiting in line to be released, being the next big thing.

(The watches pictured above are made by Uniform Wares, YoungDoo and I bought them together to celebrate our wedding and I love them. Though they no longer make the model seen here they have plenty of other great watches to choose from.)


  1. Adrian - March 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    What are the watches in your photo? They’re beautiful!

  2. DavidR - March 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I am with you on this one, John. These new watches are indeed a forced form of technology – they’re just there because smartphone market saturation is reaching dangerously high levels in the developed world.

    They’re also bulky, clunky, and don’t provide a “happy medium” IMHO: They’re not simple enough to just provide glanceable information, but not powerful enough to replace actually pulling out your phone. They’re also ugly as sin in most cases, IMHO (though the Moto 360 doesn’t look bad.) I feel the Pebble is the most reasonable due to its simplicity.

    Also, I’m with Adrian: who makes the watches in the picture?

  3. Quote of the Day: John Carey — The Brooks Review - March 24, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    […] watches are a perfect example of a forced evolution of technology.” — John Carey Originally posted for members on: March 24, 2014 Follow along on RSS, App.net, or Twitter.~I would […]

  4. john - March 24, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    The watches pictured here are made by Uniform Wares. I added a little info about them at the end of the article.

  5. Ricardo - March 27, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I hope that Apple’s approach to an iWatch is the same they’ve done for an TV: not a watch but an intermediate device: one that connects the human body with your digital presence (through your iPhone).

    Connecting the dots between M7 chip, low energy Bluetooth and Healthbook… it seems extremely likely.

  6. Anh - March 27, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Can’t agree with you more. Those smart watches are beautiful, indeed. But I don’t really see what they can bring to me. The idea of using a watch screen to display notifications, direction or whatever doesn’t seem to attract me much. They can create something like a wristband dedicated to this and I absolutely wouldn’t mind. In fact, I really like the Mistfit or Nike Fuelband, with an option of display notification on their tiny LED screen. Sometimes, I focus too much on other thing that I often forget my phone was vibrating. Thus, I have no idea if someone was trying to call or text me. A wristband with an option of displaying notifications offer a better solution, and much more simple. I would rather just leave my watch to display time, and not something else.

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