Dick Tracy is a creative movie in and of itself, with plenty of color, memorable characters (especially the villains), and plenty of fun inside a comic-strip-turned-film. But, for a lot of people my age who saw that movie, one of the things that really stood out, and maybe the only thing, was Tracy's watch. It wasn't just any kind of watch, and considering the movie came out in 1990, it was beyond futuristic for its time.
It was a watch that not only worked to make and receive phone calls, but also worked as a two-way TV, too. I'm sure it had a bunch of other functions, like if text messages were something people thought about on a regular basis back then it could probably do that, too, but the idea of talking to someone through the watch was pretty great back then.
Since then, Dick Tracy's watch has always been something that I've wanted to become a reality. It's the gadget that, as a kid, I distinctly remember always pretending I had, and talking to my friends with it all the time with their own watches. And ever since the wearables market started taking off, a lot of people have pointed to Tracy's watch as the thing they want.
Tracy's watch was a perfect solution to a problem that existed in Tracy's world, whatever it was. He made using a watch to talk, video and whatever else just look natural, even back then, and yet we can't seem to replicate the scenario so many years later. Smartwatches seem to be a forced solution to a problem that we can't quite put our finger on, and yet we all know that we're still trying to figure it out. I'd say that the majority of people want wearables to really work, to really take off so we can start seeing some really amazing pieces of technology, but we're all still just waiting.
The Apple Watch can answer calls, and as Apple's CEO Tim Cook said on stage at the recent Spring Forward event, he's been wanting to do that since he was a kid. But the Watch isn't the first wearable to do that (whether that's a problem, though, is the topic for another piece), and Samsung managed to launch a smartwatch with the ability to take calls without the need of a phone.
For all intents and purposes, Samsung's smartwatch is the closer of the two to what Tracy's watch probably would be today.
I tried that watch, I tried talking on it, to someone on the other end, and I realized almost instantly that I never wanted to do it again. And when I saw Apple show off the feature again this month on their own wearable, I had the same realization all over again. I just don't want to be in an area where there are other people around me, and I'm suddenly having a conversation essentially on speakerphone.
I don't think they want that, either. That's worse than talking on an elevator, maybe.
I honestly have no idea what I want from a wearable, other than better battery life across the board, and more stylish designs, but I guess I'm just going to keep trying. Just like I did with tablets. Maybe one day I'll get whatever it is I'm looking for.