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Not So Smart: A Sneak Peek at Smart Watches

July 31, 2014
| Articles

We live in an age where so many of our appliances are smart. There are smart phones, smart televisions, even smart household appliances like refrigerators, dish washers, and washing machines. So why not smart watches?

 

What is a smart watch, anyway? Consider it a wrist watch that goes far beyond the typical mundane function of time-keeping. Take that smart phone you carry around, shrink it down to the size and shape of a wrist watch, and with various models offering different levels of functionality, and you pretty much have a good idea of what we’re talking about here.

 

Many models of these watches run apps, offer mobile phone functionality, have a camera, and can be used as a calculator, GPS, or thermonuclear detonator.

 

Okay, we’re just kidding about that last one.

 

Probably.

 

However, someone apparently thought that carrying around a small, light smart phone was too much trouble, so they designed one that can be attached to your wrist. To be fair, it appears that most of the models are meant to supplement your smart phone, not replace it.

 

Let’s take a brief look at a sample of four of the better smart watches you can get.

 

The Pebble

Compatible with both Android and iOS, this smart watch is used to provide you with notifications synched from your smart phone. Nevertheless, the Pebble is designed to work as a standalone device. It can keep track of your pace when you run, get update alerts from your Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, to name a few. It has a waterproof rating of 5 ATM, which means it can be submerged down to 165 feet. Just what you need for checking your Facebook updates while snorkeling in the Bahamas.

 

Samsung Gear Fit

Part smart watch, part activity tracker, the Gear Fit requires a supported Samsung device in order to operate, so in this case, it’s more of an over-glorified smart phone extra. But if you’re a physical fitness devotee, you’ll find that the Gear Fit comes in handy. It plays music, keeps track of heart rate, gives you notifications from your Samsung device, collects data about your sleep, and supports activity tracking for running, hiking, and cycling.

 

Basis Carbon Steel Edition

Like the Gear Fit, the Basis comes across as more of an activity tracker/wrist-watch combination, and on top of that, this one has a larger price tag. You can sync with your Android or Apple device via Bluetooth. The Basis measures the depth of your sleep, perspiration, skin temperature, and heart rate, and also automatically differentiates between walking, hiking, running, and sleeping. In other words, it’s clearly a case of getting what you pay for.

 

The Martian Smart Watch

Designed with fashion in mind, the Martian provides you with hands-free voice commands, smart phone camera control, and a message and alert display. It’s an analog watch, one that was created to be good-looking as well as functional, designed to act as an extension of your smart phone (Android or iOS) as opposed to a replacement for it.

 

In a Nutshell

The smart watch market is growing, as both major corporations and crowd-funded entrepreneurs alike offer consumers their best shot at this new iteration of mobile technology. But one question emerges from this: is this form of technology really necessary? In some ways, it seems to be a rehash of existing mobile technology (thinking primarily of smart phones), but in a different form, and in most cases just an extension of the device you already have.

 

At this stage of the game, the smart watch seems more like an expensive electronic accessory or novelty. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for people who may be looking to replace their smart phone with a wrist-mounted device, they may have a bit more of a wait on their hands. But still, could you imagine a powerful smart watch that would replace your smart phone and give you full Internet access, including cloud file storage? Now we’re talking about something closer to science fiction, at least for now!

 

Until then, it looks like smart watches are for the most part a luxury accessory for smart phones, with varying levels of computing available. They may be cool in theory, but hardly a necessity.

 

Oh well. At least it’s not Google Glass.

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