Will the Smart Watch be the next big thing?


Pebble watches goes far beyond the clunky calculator watch from the '80s, with a downloadable, customized display, a standard watch-sized backing and a stylish strap to connect the device to your wrist.

Published: Monday, February 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 8, 2013 at 5:13 p.m.

Not sure about you, but one of the first things my smartphone replaced was my wristwatch. It's not that I am anti-watch; I actually like how the little hands go-round-and-round. But it's just one less thing to worry about. No more replacing straps or trying to color-coordinate with my socks. Heck, it's even made daylight-saving time less stressful.

So you could understand my bewilderment upon hearing what many tech gypsies are calling the “next big thing.” The smart watch. Really? What in iBlazes are they thinking?

Such a device would resemble an everyday watch yet, upon closer inspection, reveal much of the touchscreen goodness that makes a smartphone actually smart, albeit with a much smaller screen.

The Pebble, which began shipping at the end of January, is the first to garner widespread attention as this strappingly fine device ticked its way through Kickstarter funding and is currently “tocking” to stores and online retailers alike.

So what does this $150 gadget do?

It goes far beyond the clunky calculator watch from the '80s, with a downloadable, customized display, a standard watch-sized backing and a stylish strap to connect the device to your wrist.

Most importantly for functioneers, it has a backlit electronic-paper watch face that can take on many looks depending on your current activity, can work with a host of applications, including those for sports and fitness (including GPS), and connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone, including iPhones and Androids.

Herein lies the beauty: The device can be programmed to vibrate and display incoming calls, text, emails or Facebook messages and control your music — all without taking your smartphone out of your pocket.

Similar smart watches have already been on the market, such as I'M Watch ($389) with built-in speakers to allow music and the ability to make phone calls. The Motorola MotoACTV 8GB Sports Watch and MP3 player ($201) allows users to take advantage of GPS to track running routes and count burned calories. Other devices, like the Sony Smartwatch ($99), touch upon a host of similar features.

The big variable in all of this is Apple. Rumors have been pouring out of Cupertino that Big A has been developing an iWatch of their own. Most predictions point to the possible functionality of personal assistant SIRI. Having voice command ability to look up contacts and make calls or texts, get quick directions or even check sports scores, are just a few of the possibilities. This could very well be SIRI's most useful medium. Other integrations, like FaceTime, would allow video conferencing by just glancing at your wrist.

Such a move by Apple would certainly make the smart watch the new must-have device, and would mean offerings by Android and Windows would soon follow.

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