Smartwatches: Time for Hands Free Digital Living
The definition of a cyborg according to Manfred Clynes : "an organism to which exogenous components have been added for the purpose of adapting to new environments." (‘Cyborgs in Space’, 1965)
Smartwatches are oft quoted as the next big step forward in personal technology. Towards what is yet uncertain, though at PricePanda we surmise that it is most likely facing a near distant future wherein we fondly reflect on smartwatches as being the harbinger of our biomechatronic present. The eagerly anticipated advancement in wearable tech, and perhaps the iconic progenitor of a populace of cyborgs: smartwatches are the latest technological development borne from our collective desire to stay connected with others and to enhance our mental and physical development. They provide us with personal, portable super-human powers beyond realms of imagination as close by as only a decade before. While there is the tendency to think of the cybernetic man as becoming somewhat disconnected from the fragility of humanity, elevated thus the mechanically improved man becomes cold and impervious to the plights of the weaker being, it seems our developments in technology are taking an unexpected turn. Instead of becoming the hyper-human, we are becoming, rather simply: more human.
Leave the Limitations Behind
Traditionally, the addition of tool use has been adapted to help us to better our physical capabilities. Apparatus for breathing in space or underwater, hammers for adding physical strength, jet engines for flying and travelling faster, for example. However, recently technology has been helping us to improve our mental self. Starting with the smartphone, that other worldly device that weighs barely anything while enabling us to have unlimited information at our fingertips, personal technology has expanded our ‘selves’ to the potential limits of human knowledge and understanding across the globe. We can now communicate with a friend on the other side of the world, or, more eerily, see what their house and surroundings looks like on Google Earth. And all of it takes place within mere instants. We now have access to so much information, that our own brains can’t possibly contain it, so we rely and depend on this technology to enhance ourselves. This works across a wide range of mental states, not only the storage of facts or information. In fact, with this new tech, you construct an entirely different self in an entirely different world that affects your social life, your lifestyle, and works to compliment and enhance the nuances of your personality. The added connectivity means we are communicating more than ever, we are aware of the plights of others, the social injustices, the personal and public battles. We are commenting, raising awareness, sending pizza to the hungry, raising money for tuition fees on Indiegogo, and we are doing all of it at an ever increasing rate. Of course, the internet is also used for awful things, Youtube comments for instance, however that too is part of the tangled web of what it is to be human, flawed. The internet allows us an form of collective introspection never before available to us as a species, and it has altered us faster than anything experienced in the past 100 years. Consider the palpable lack felt when this piece of equipment goes missing: the almost inexplicable pain experienced is entirely disproportionate to the physically small size of the object. It has expanded the possibilities of the human beyond our own visible, physical realm, to be without it is to suddenly feel painfully small and alone in the universe. A feeling that can be described not as “less than human”, but “less than myself”. The world isn’t smaller in the digital age, but the self is infinitely larger.
The focus in the technology sector is is once again watches. Previously, the omnipotent smartphone combined all other tech accessories into one master device. Calculators, watches, alarm clocks were rendered obsolete as everyone reached deep into pockets and rummaged through bags searching for the answer to contemporary quandaries. Now however, as other technologies catch up in the “smart race”, there are more convenient ways to stay connected to the digital realm. Wearable tech, more specifically smartwatches, are destabilising the grip of the smartphone for a more liberating, integrated tech experience that won’t hold you back. The "one handed capabilities of smartphones are an appeal of a previous, more patient era, as smartwatches enable hands free, on the go access to your digital life/support.
Why use a Smartwatch? An Exegesis
What does a smartwatch have, that a smartphone doesn’t? First of all, I think that it is important to note that smartwatches are not intended to replace the smartphone. In fact, many current watches depend on their smartphone partner device, however the best of them work as standalone devices rather than phone accesories . Wearable tech is perfect for when you want to have seamless benefits from the technology without it interfering - for instance its perfect as a fitness tracker or an REM tracker. Wear it while exercising or sleeping, without having to worry about your smartphone. Pre-programme your navigation system before you pull out of the driveway and discover a safer way to travel the city or around the scenic route. Another benefit is the ability to receive notifications without having to turn your phone off standby and check it. Get out of the habit of continuously checking your mobile or computer - simply trust your smartwatch to let you know when you have a notification. You can glance down and see who its from, or wait until you have time. From there you can decide whether to reply instantly with voice command or wait until you have access to your laptop for longer, more considered responses.
A Comparison of Models
Of course, that takes care of the smart side of things, but what about the watch? They have long been a status symbol of personal wealth, affiliations and unique style. Can these modern renovations keep up in terms of aesthetic appeal? For most, the jury is still out. While, for early adopters and “tech-leets” the novelty of the devices surpasses any and all need for them to be as attractive and high brow as a Swiss watch, others claim they wouldn’t swap their beloved classic timepieces for a gadget until they can encompass slightly more sophistication. The Apple Watch seeks to compensate for this with their Edition series, a line they claim luxury Swiss manufacturers over Silicon Valley or China as their biggest competitors. With specially hardened rose gold casing, these watches have been have expected market value of around $5,000. This is in contrast to the Samsung Gear line and the very budget smartwatch series Pebble, which can retail for as low as $100, and still look respectably attractive and carry out impressive functions. Whether you prefer a rectangular or circular display is of course user preference, however traditionalists will always plump for the round display reminiscent of the original timekeepers. Admittedly, they do look sleeker and more discrete on the wrist, however you sacrifice maximising screen size. However, if you don’t plan on replacing your smartphone with your smartwatch then that shouldn’t be a problem.
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