The Technology Merry Go Round
Technology and gadgets are a bit like fashion. In that industry it is often spoken how certain styles that were fashionable in by gone eras come back around to be popular today. To a certain extent, technology is the same. Ideas and principles that were attempted in the past are reinvented for the modern era with new technology allowing these ideas to become more prominent and feasible. Here I look at some examples of this.
The Smart Watch
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Apple bringing out what is being dubbed an ‘Iwatch‘. The idea is that it would be linked to your smart phone in your pocket with certain apps being available to use on the watch screen. You could view texts on it, make calls, listen to music from it and more obvious features like different clocks, calendars and social networks. One interesting idea that could be improved through this watch is security. If your phone is linked to your watch, the watch could vibrate or alarm when the phone goes a few metres away from the watch. With more and more data and private details being stored on our phones (bank accounts and all) this is one interesting prevention technique.
This isn’t the first time people have tried to make watches more than objects for timekeeping. In the 1970′s there was the calculator watch. Then we had the watch that was also a television remote. After that we had health watches, ones that could monitor heart rate etc for sports purposes. In the digital revolution we had the camera watch and the MP3 watch. We’ve even had walkie-talkie watches. Now its going one step further. However, I’d like to point out that smart watches with apps and this level of technology have been around for a few years in Asia. I considered buying one just a few years ago. But as you expect, as soon as Apple takes interest in an idea it becomes a bit more mainstream. These previous incarnations of smart watches were relatively niche, with only the truly geeky people like myself having one. With geek chic now in its full swing this tech could yet come back to be popular. Personally, however, I don’t see the need for this product. Apple though have a habit of making popular products, which is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that Samsung are now planning a smart watch.
The Gadget show recently looked at some of the current smart watches out there and found a few problems: Smart Watches
At the moment ours phones do everything. Emails, calendars, dictionaries, stopwatches, alarms – they are all the most base features we expect and we often take them for granted. There were days though when these things were luxury items, coming in all manner of shapes and sizes. These retro black and white screen organisers were essentially small netbooks. We had basic calendars, which eventually evolved in to PDA’s then smart phones. Initially, these were in the shape of resistive black and white touch screens. Remember those screens where you had to bash the screen for it to actually work. I remember having one of these in early high school (about 2003). My friend (that one that always had to be one up on everyone else) had one of the first colour PDA’s with a stylus and even basic handwriting recognition. These PDA’s were expensive, clunky and marketed more at the businessmen, with the idea of a mobile office being in its very early stages. In 2012 it was reported that there were over 1 billion smart phone users in the world. It would appear that in an age where no idea is really that ‘new’, that technology is all about what is hot and what is not.
One of the hottest pieces of tech due to come out in coming years is Google Glass. For those who of you who don’t know what this (where have you been?) it’s a small device that is fitted on a pair of glasses and it layers information over your sight. Imagine the in-game hud in say Call of Duty but in tour vision in real life. Say for example, a map in the corner of your eye giving you directions to your destination. I’m extremely excited about this idea, but the concept isn’t that new, it’s just that technology has made it practical. When smart phones first game about apps like Layar, mapped information through the camera on your phone. You could, for example, point it at the floor in London and tube maps would appear on ground below guiding to your nearest line. Similarly, you could point the phone at a historic landmark and it would overlay the Wikipedia page about it over the screen. All great ideas, but not really practical. Having to get your phone out your pocket and look through your phone somewhat diminishes the experience. Also it required you to have your camera, 3G and GPS on all at the same time, which is a massive battery killer. But now, as technology seems to be get smaller every year it seems that the fantasy could actually become reality. Many people with our glasses might find this a bit of a nuisance, but for glasses wearers like me its a cool upgrade.
Adding elements to glasses isn’t entirely new either. For years overhead gaming systems have existed. I remember visiting Segaworld as a kid and putting a big clunky headset on to play a game. More recently we have seen video glasses, with built-in headphones and the ability to make it seem like you’re watching a cinema size movie screen.
The Nintendo Wii was seen a revelation in gaming, it added a casual playful nature to the game market. It also added a new physical experience to gaming, where a players physical movement is as important as their skill with a controller. Recently, Xbox Kinect has taken to this to another level. But years before this, there was the PlayStation Eyetoy not too dissimilar to the Kinect. There were of course earlier iterations of this type of device years before. And lets not forget things like Timecrisis and Gran Turismo. When I was growing up we had a gun we could plug into the screen and recreate the arcade experience, likewise with a steering wheel and pedals.
- Smart Watches – All Hype or Innovative Product? (boomerandecho.com)
- Does Anybody Really Want an iWatch? (nymag.com)
- New hovering touchscreen tech gives you control without contact (video) (reviews.cnet.com)