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Technology Trends: Smartwatches - Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: Smartwatches

Executive Leadership Articles

Technology Trends: Smartwatches

By now, you’ve already seen the hype surrounding smartwatches, those futuristic—yet strangely quaint—wristwatches with network connectivity, mobile apps, touch screens, and phone capabilities. With a long history of science-fiction behind it, the technology seems finally to have caught up to our childhood spy-movie fantasies, assuming we’re not in our twenties and have therefore never owned a wristwatch. If you don’t already own a smartwatch, you’ve probably asked, “Why would anyone with a smartphone need that?”

Somehow, smartwatches seem to be catching on, with more variations in more product than anyone should reasonably have expected from an idea many of us have moved on from. The rapid marketplace flooding of new devices seems to echo the early days of mp3 players and tablets, with manufacturers looking to fill any possible niche before the niches have defined themselves. With a dizzying variety in functionality and price, the new smartwatches beg to satisfy needs we aren’t perhaps aware of, an approach that’s frivolous at worst, and visionary at best.

In evaluating the offerings and comparing them to your own needs, it’s useful to erase from your mind that these are wristwatches with smart technology. A watch keeps time, and while we all still need constant knowledge of the time of day (checking the time is the most-used function of smartphones, with text messaging number two), if we get locked into the practicality of a wristwatch, it’s easy to block out most other uses as superfluous. Consider instead the label attached to fitness-tracking products, such as Fitbit: wearable technology. A fitness tracker needs to be on your person, and as anyone who’s let the pocket clip-on model go through the wash can tell you, a wrist is a practical, reasonable place to keep one. If you can think of a scenario or two where you needed your phone but were in a place where accessing it was inappropriate or awkward, you’ve already identified at least one practical use for having it on your wrist: in line at the store, in the shower, or at a nice dinner. It’s great to get sports scores in real time, but whipping out your phone to see the updates may not be cool at a wedding. A quick glance at a watch is more than appropriate. The key here is to think of it as mobile technology in a convenient, socially acceptable place.

Prices range from about a hundred dollars to $17,000 (that’s not an exaggeration), although the upper end is generally between $300 and $1000, depending on functionality and fashion. Some models are basically access points for your smartphone, and must be paired via Bluetooth, while your phone is nearby, in order to be more than a timepiece. Others are standalone devices. Among the most popular functions are synching with scheduling apps, extended fitness tracking (such as heartrate monitors), and the ability to pay for items at brick-and-mortar cash registers. Consider comfort, battery life, compatibility with other devices, operating systems, and the testimony of trusted friends as you compare models. A good piece of advice for anyone jumping into a new, untried technology is to set a budget first, then purchase the best you can get for that price. It’s better to grow into the features you don’t immediately think you need than to discover in a few months that something you’d really like isn’t on the item you purchased.

A very long time ago, you asked yourself why anyone would need a camera on a phone. Now, you can’t purchase a phone that doesn’t have one, and cell phone video has changed the face of personal expression and of citizen journalism. If you’ve also asked yourself why anyone would need smart technology on a wristwatch, it’s an understandable response, but if it excites you think about how new technologies open doors to social, professional, and personal change, take a look at what’s out there and dip your toes in.


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Technology Trends: Smartwatches - Executive Leadership Articles

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