We are told technology is advancing so rapidly that we mere human blobs of protoplasm cannot hope to keep up.
I think it’s the other way around. Basically the trick is to hang on long enough – endure enough Next Big Things that flame out – that the right technology finally finds its way to you.
Ladies and gentlemen, the smart watch. It’s just around the corner, again – no, really this time – we are told. I have never understood why it’s taken so long.
Let’s review the history of smart watches. As a child, I had a Timex with luminescent hands, which was great for when you needed to tell time in the dark, which wasn’t that often. You had to wind it every day. But it was smarter than any other watch of the time.
A few years later my grandparents paid a small fortune and gave me a watch with no hands. It had red, backlit numbers, and of course you could not read it in sunlight or a lot of other light. It weighed nine pounds. But it was fancy, and it certainly seemed smarter than any other watch around.
Today I wear – yes, I’m part of that vanishing breed – an el cheapo Casio that tells me the time, day and date. It dings alarms, it has a battery that will outlast me, and it has a stopwatch that I pretty much do not know how to use. If Armstrong and Aldrin had that much computing power back in ’69, they’d have flown this thing to the moon and back. Yet it’s not considered smart in the least.
So what is next? Samsung – the company that made my brand-new, wholly unimpressive phone – is offering up a watch with a 1.6-inch LED display, a camera, microphone and speaker and room for lots of apps, from eBay to note-taking.
Well, some apps. Initial reviews seem to indicate this is somewhere between the Next Big Thing and a fancier version of those watch-type things that hard-core runners wear. And a 1.6-inch screen? You have to really, really want to watch the game to use that.
Still, this could work, at least for some of us. A good friend and I have had a debate for decades. Call it high-tech for its own sake versus appropriate tech.
His view: The upper end of what’s possible is what you should buy. Now. The bleeding edge is the only place to live. My view: What is it you want to accomplish? What’s reasonably at hand to achieve that end?
I don’t need much. Just email, a phone, TV, texting, Twitter, FourSquare, weather radar, weather radio, face-to-face teleconferencing, GPS, sports scores, sports highlights, yeah maybe the whole game, stock quotes, shortwave radio, news updates, a calculator, biometric readouts and reminders to pick up the dry cleaning. And the occasional time check. Plus all the cool things I’ll need as soon as I become of aware of their existence.
All on my wrist, which is close, handy and, so far, has never been misplaced.
As these things go, as soon as that is developed and eventually becomes the Last Big Thing, I’ll get around to buying one.
Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @FoxEJC or @Jeff_Fox.