There is a lot of buzz about the smartwatch. Just this month you may have read about the Sony Smartwatch 2, Casio’s 6900 series, the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Omate Truesmart. What is not clear to me is exactly what we need the smartwatch for.
Smartphones are popular because they integrate existing technology into a nice and handy all in one package. The smarthphone replaces a lot of existing technology. The smartphone put the mobile phone, organizer, Walkman, handheld gaming console, camera, portable video player, and your personal computer all in a little rectangular pocket-sized bar. Yes, your smartphone is as powerful as a full-sized computer from just a few years ago. What keeps it from completely replacing your computer are the limits of what can be done on a small 4 or 5 inch display or software restrictions like what Apple does with iOS. Because of the limitations of what can be done comfortably on a small screen, we have seen the tablet and the phablet, both of which are essentially larger smartphones.
Now someone got the idea that we would like micro versions of smartphones strapped to our wrists. But no one has been able to define exactly what existing technology we would like replaced by these smartwatches. Instead, the smartwatch has been envisioned to be an extension of the smartphone, so that you can look at the tiny one inch display on your wrist rather than pull out your smartphone from your pocket. Early smartwatches act as a notification tool which will alert you of phone calls, messages or email received by your smartphone. Granted this could be useful for those who carry their smartphone in a handbag when in noisy environments. But if that is all the smart watch is designed to do, a simple device which vibrates on any notification might be a more elegant way to go about it. This could be strapped discretely on a wrist, shoulder, ankle or thigh. I don’t see many people wanting to sport a smartwatch while in a tux or little black dress.
So, why the smart watch? Despite the convergence in technology, you have a fair number of gadget-crazy types who like to carry multiple smartphones plus a Kindle, iPod and and tablet all at the same time. The smartwatch is not about filling a need, but manufacturers are hoping to capitalize on our gadget-crazy nature to sell a few hundred million of these things. Tell me I am wrong, but exactly what clutter around your desk or in your travel bag will disappear when your shiny new smartwatch arrives?