mfioretti: smart watches*

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  1. Nobody needs a smartwatch. But for parents, they can be tempting. Loaded with GPS and a cellular data chip, they can both track a child and offer them a way to communicate in emergencies–without handing them the full dopamine drip that is the modern smartphone. In turn, the market research firm Gartner believes that by 2021, 30% of smartwatch sales may be for children.

    But according to a new report put out by the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) and the security firm Mnemonic, recently featured on BoingBoing, parents should think twice before purchasing kid-friendly smartwatches like the Gator or Xplora. Why? The watches and their connected apps tend to disregard fundamental opt-in agreements to sharing data–meaning there’s no legal pact between the user and the company holding their data. Crucially, none of the investigated watches allowed you to delete your child’s data or ensured that marketers couldn’t use that data to sell something to your child. Nor did they make it clear where all of this data was being stored. These practices aren’t just crude or careless; depending on a country’s privacy laws, they can actually be illegal.
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  2. I personally think the wearable will disappear. As interaction paradigms shift towards voice and motion control we can expect to see devices that are always listening to us and following us in the real world, reading vital signs and telling us important data on the go. I imagine an Alexa-like device that sits in our ears and whispers advice on getting through the day – “Turn left ahead,” “Your coffee order is ready,” “That person you’re talking to is named Joe and you met him last week.” – a sort of aural assistant that is always on. Why can’t we use a watch? A watch is essentially too far from our best sense organs to be of any use in this case.

    That doesn’t mean I’ll throw away my Seiko or Omega or Rolex and neither will you. But it does mean we’ll probably stop buying smartwatches.

    Smartwatches are interstitial. Watches, on the other hand, will always be with us but in their original form – as a tool and a bit of ostentation. I doubt anything, Apple Watch included, will survive the next decade as a viable product, especially as smaller devices can become smarter and more connected. Long live the watch but say adieu to the smartwatch.
    Voting 0
  3. It seems everyone in Silicon Valley wants the world to work this way. You see it in TV ads and YouTube videos, on Squarespace-templated websites and Kickstarter campaigns. As everything from your Subaru to your garden hose comes online, engineers and designers envision the world responding to you as you move through it, adapting to your moods and desires (and purchasing history). Someday, they say, everything will know what you want, when you want it. For now, the goal is to do absolutely anything with a single click of a button. Think of it as a universal remote for life.

    Buttons have always held near-mystical power. You see one and want to press it. Especially if it’s red. Buttons are physical, active, and directly correlative in the way touchscreen can’t be. That’s why, when Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky and his team started pondering how to improve their smartwatch, they focused on its four buttons.
    Voting 0
  4. A couple of days ago, it was when it went dead at work because I had forgotten to charge it and my charging cable was back at home. A few days before that it was when I went to look at it after waking in the middle of the night but it was dead (I really like knowing the time if I wake up — do I have 15 minutes left to sleep or three hours? I even made a special Apple Watch clock face just for when I go to sleep).

    These are all my fault for not monitoring the battery life of my Apple watch closely enough, but I don’t want to have to baby sit the battery on something I’ve never given a second thought to in my entire life. Watch batteries had been something I had to replace every four years, but now I’m worrying about my watch battery every single day.

    I know it sounds like a “1st world problem” but I’m already worrying about my iPhone 6′s battery charge (so much so that I’m now carrying a Mophie), and my iPad, and my MacBook Pro’s battery, and I needed another thing to worry about charging like I needed a hole in my head. I’m sure over time I could condition myself to monitor the watch battery status more closely, but the problem is — I don’t want to. This watch is supposed to make my life easier — not give me something new to worry about charging each day.
    Voting 0

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