When my mom got a Fitbit, I knew wearable technology had finally made its way to the masses.
Over the past several years, wearables have transitioned from being just a plaything for tech geeks to something normal people actually want to own. Fitness trackers, smartwatches and even smart glasses have become mainstream.
Despite speculation that it won’t be much good, the release of the Apple Watch will surely further this trend. I have yet to be convinced that I need any of this.
The smartphone was an easy sell to consumers. It was a new device that could replace your old cellphone, calculator, notepad, camera and even some aspects of your computer. The key to the success of the smartphone was that it allowed people to carry around less stuff. It minimized the number of devices a person needed to have with them, but allowed them to have access to the functions of many devices at any given time.
Now, smartphones have become somewhat stagnant. Each new Galaxy or iPhone or Lumia (to avoid alienating you Windows Phone people) which gets released feels more evolutionary than revolutionary.
Our phones are so packed with features that little can be added. What is already there just gets upgraded. Plus, apart from Nokia’s crazy colors most smartphones look exactly the same.
Rather than sticking to the idea that your smartphone should do everything, tech companies now want us to add a second device to supplement the functionality of our phones. To me, most of these devices suffer from some fatal flaws: almost every smartwatch on the market today requires a paired phone in order to do anything, and what they can do is basically an extension of the functionality I already have.
I am also not a big fan of the high price of smartwatches. Carrier subsidies allow you to buy a smartphone for cheap (sometimes even free), and yet you will be paying hundreds of dollars for a watch to go with it.
I realize some people out there are willing to pay plenty of money for a regular dumb watch. I’m just not one of those people, nor do I think those people would trade the quality and craftsmanship of an expensive watch for a plastic watch with a color screen.
At first glance, fitness trackers seem like a better proposition. They are cheaper than smartwatches, and can also tell you really incredible things about yourself, such as how many steps you took that day or if you slept well (since apparently you can’t figure that one out on your own). Unfortunately for fitness tracker manufacturers, a new study released by the University of Pennsylvania says that built-in fitness tracking in smartphones is actually more accurate than wearable fitness tracking. It turns out that our smartphones are already replacing fitness tech that we just decided we needed.
Maybe I am just lazy, but I would rather not have to charge multiple devices every day. I already charge my phone every single night, so I am far less likely to use a second device if it also needs to be charged daily.
I almost bought a Pebble smartwatch during a Black Friday sale solely because of the price cuts, but for me, the current state of wearables is just not developed enough to be worth the purchase.