Wearable tech is starting to sound more appealingAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Wearable technology is starting to actually make a name for itself in the industry. What was once just a fabled piece of technology that comic strip character Dick Tracy wore, back before phones were ever fathomed to be used without a cord, is now becoming a reality. We've already seen smartwatches come from Sony and Pebble, but it seems that the idea hasn't really caught on with much enthusiasm until now. Perhaps it's because two of the biggest companies in tech are rumored to come out with smartwatch variations of their own, but it seems to me that smartwatches are becoming more popular due to another reason: phablets.
I've expressed my disdain for phablets for quite some time now, but mostly on a personal level. I understand that there are people out there who have a real need for bigger phones, but that was before I discovered that larger phones really do have more benefits than just being a phone for people with larger hands. I can't deny the usefulness of a larger screen when it comes to being able to see more on the screen at a time, easier navigation and even taking and editing photos. But that still doesn't change the fact that extended use of a large screen to a person with small hands becomes rather uncomfortable, which can be particularly annoying when making lengthy phone calls.
I had considered using my old Bluetooth headset for making phone calls one I switched to a larger device, but I can't get over how annoying I find it to be to have something stuck in my ear for a prolonged period of time - especially when it's not doing anything. Headphones for music? Heck yeah! Bluetooth in my ear waiting for a phone call? No thanks. While Bluetooths might be a good solution for people who get phone calls often, it's somewhat impractical for people who don't.
But smartwatches are a different solution. Not only do they bring more features to the table, but they're also less intrusive and more intuitive. Before we were able to whip out our cell phones at a moment's notice to check the time, many people would count on watches. In most cases, checking a watch will tell you the time faster than taking your phone out of your pocket and pressing the power button. You also don't risk dropping your watch when it's safely secured to your wrist. So why not take that same idea and combine it with smartphone technology? It's taking the usefulness of a smartphone and combining it with the convenience of something that's attached to your wrist at all times.
I liked the smartwatch from Pebble, mostly for the eInk display (think: battery life) and I think if it had more functionality I would have probably purchased one. But smartwatches like Pebble's and Sony's thus far have been missing a very important aspect that people are looking for in smartwatches, and that's making a phone call directly from and using the smartwatch itself. Sony and Pebble both cut it close by allowing you to answer and reject phone calls (to which you would then have to use your phone to talk), but they are still missing that crucial functionality of actually being able to use the smartwatch to make phone calls. If Samsung's rumored Galaxy Gear manages to make this possible I think a lot of people will express more interest in such a device.
I've also considered the effects of smartwatches in situations like when driving. Never will I ever condone texting and driving, and I'm even skeptical on phone calls and driving (if you don't have hands-free calling, you probably shouldn't be doing it). But what kind of impact will smartwatches have on phone use and driving? When having both hands on the wheel, glancing at your smartwatch to see who a notification is from wouldn't take any longer than glancing at the radio clock to check the time. It seems like a better solution than reaching for your phone and taking one hand off the wheel to check a notification directly from your phone. However, time will tell whether smartwatches will actually hurt or help drivers if they become as popular as they're looking up to be.
Smartwatches have gotten off to a slow start, but with smartphones becoming larger and more manufacturers working to make smartwatches better in general, I think the whole smartwatch idea will be taking off rather shortly.
Readers, what are your thoughts on smartwatches? Do you already have one, or are you thinking of purchasing one once certain features are added? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!