They say nothing is new under the sun, but obviously they didn’t imagine the way technology would shape the way we live and interact today. Touch screen devices and handheld computers had us gawking a few years ago, but now it seems they’ve stolen more pages from sci-fi novels and brought it all to reality.
Wearable technology seems to be the next big thing to whet the appetites of tech junkies and geeks alike. No, not smart jeans or shoes, that’s just preposterous! (But with the way things are going, I don’t think iClothes are such a far-fetched idea!)
Google rolled out its wearable tech offering under the guise of Google Glass – glasses that display information in a smartphone-like handsfree format. This device uses augmented reality and communicates with the internet via mutual language voice commands. It lets you to take pictures and record HD videos using voice prompts, and can be used with GPS to locate various places.
But what really seems to have the media in a frenzy right now are Smartwatches. They work like PDAs and go beyond mere time keeping. Some models even offer full mobile phone capabilities and can make or answer phone calls.
These futuristic devices were the envy of kids in the 1940s when comic book hero, Dick Tracy sported a fancy two-way radio communicator. Seiko was one of the first to develop Smartwatches through their acquisition of the Pulsar brand in the late ‘70s. In the ‘80s, Casio then went on to produce ‘computer watches’ alongside its calculator watches and Novelty ‘game watches’.
Fast forward to today; Samsung graced the tech world with another technological marvel in the Galaxy Gear, their own offering to wearable technology. It runs Android 4.3 and will be a companion to other Android tablets and smartphones after an upgrade (currently the number of devices it can sync with are limited). It boasts 4GB of internal storage, 512MB of RAM and a 1.9 mega pixel camera that allows you to intuitively capture fleeting moments and share them across social networks. The Galaxy gear notifies users of incoming messages and calls which can be previewed on its 1.6 inch Super AMOLED display.
Pebble Technologies raised money through the crowd funding platform, KickStarter to develop the Pebble Smartwatch. This watch utilises third party app developers and can connect to iPhone and Android devices. Watch faces can be switched according to mood, activity or outfit with the Pebble, and it can even act as a bicycle computer for cyclists by displaying speed, distance and pace details. It has an advantage over the Galaxy Gear because it can pair with any Android phone. The watch’s battery is also something the makers brag about. It can go up to 7 days without a recharge.
The Sony Smartwatch 2 is Sony’s second offering to the wrist game. With 220×176 mega pixels, it lets you choose between digital or analogue interfaces and has wrist straps available in several colours. Its touch screen enables you to move between a three-level micro display using tap and swipe actions. A long press opens a sleek options menu. Facebook and Twitter notifications can be read as they come in and there are lots of apps available in the Google Playstore.
With all the fuss about Smartwatches, there’s a good chance that a child out there will cry their lungs out for one. Enter VTech, a tech toy company that has introduced the KidiZoom Smart Watch– the world’s first smartwatch for kids. Technically it isn’t a smartwatch because it can’t connect to the internet, but it boasts some good graphics and games, camera and apparently it can even tell the time! Older kids can even switch to an analogue watch face if they’ve grown past digital.
Other brands of Smartwatches include the Martian Smartwatch; the Italian made I’m Smartwatch and the Cookoo Smartwatch. Apple is also rumoured to have an iWatch in the making and is set to rival Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. We should see it early 2014.
These devices are definitely amazing, but they might seem more of a convenience than a utility. Some come with a hefty price tag, and the question might be whether you really need a smartwatch. They however do make good companion devices as it may not always be convenient to have a tablet or smartphone screen in front of you. Plus who wouldn’t want to be a future-man and make secret agent-like calls from their watch or glasses?