Watches that do more than tell time have gripped imaginations since the 1940s, with Dick Tracy's iconic two-way wrist radio. Since then we've seen all kinds of funky watches, most recently GPS models that can track running distance and calories burned, and watches that can deliver tweets, texts and headlines. There are now rumblings that Apple might soon invade the smartwatch space, though the company is maintaining its customary silence.
Perhaps the strongest indication of the enthusiasm surrounding smartwatches comes from a Palo Alto, Calif., start-up called Pebble Technology. Its customizable Pebble E-Paper smartwatch for iPhone and Android kicked butt this past year on the Kickstarter crowd-funding platform, with nearly 69,000 individual backers raising almost $10.3 million. That was well north of Pebble's original goal to raise $100,000, a level reached in just two hours. It was among several watches and wearable computers shown at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.
I've been testing the Pebble watch and, while I recognize its potential, I don't think it does quite enough yet to justify its fairly steep $150 price. It needs more apps for that.
But these are early days. Unless you were one of the original Kickstarter backers, ordering Pebble today -- at getpebble.com -- means you aren't likely to get the watch until April or May, when perhaps it will do more to live up to that potential. CEO Eric Migicovsky says only 6,000 watches have been distributed.
There are all kinds of reasons people wear watches, among them fashion. Pebble isn't bad-looking. The waterproof watch comes in several colors -- arctic white, cherry red and the watch I tested, jet black. You can replace the watchbands with standard-size (22mm) bands.
But many members of the cellphone generation have happily gone watch-free. Sure, there are benefits to a watch that might track your physical activity or provide quick snippets of useful information. It's equally reasonable to question how smart it is to wear a watch that largely duplicates the information you already get off the phone in your pocket or purse, no matter how much faster it is to glance at your wrist.
Pebble actually works in tandem with an app on your iPhone or Android device, via Bluetooth technology (the watch is incompatible with BlackBerry and Windows Phones).
Answering the Phone
When you get a phone call, the caller ID info is displayed on the watch. You can press one button on the watch to answer the call or another to reject it. Once on a call, you can hang up from your wrist. (continued...)
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Posted: 2013-02-18 @ 1:27pm PT
I think Smartwatches are the next rage in tech and as they progress, a lot will change in what we use.