You may have noticed that the new “it” thing is the computer-connected watch. For people who are tired of having to haul around something as big as a cell phone, you can now bring the world wide web right to your watch. It is never made clear, in the commercials anyway, why you would want to do this.
The watches (and they are already being made by several different manufacturers) automatically display the time, the temperature and the date. With the flick of a button, the user can also—via voice prompt—ask questions of their watch. Now, if you are a male who grew up in the age of Dick Tracy, you have already spent many hours of your childhood talking into your watch. But do you really want to be seen doing this as an adult?
We’ve all enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of the fellow in the restaurant who isn’t making a good phone connection and is shouting at the top of his lungs, “I don’t owe you money, Paco! The Nets won that game!”
Surely this won’t happen with “smart watches”*, people assume. As you stand around with some friends after work, hoisting a few non-alcoholic near-beers (’cause that’s the kind of health-conscious person you are), what could be a greater way to show off your latest gadgetry than to talk to your watch and have it answer back?
You: “Watch. What is the score of the Astros game today?”
Watch: “Did you ask, ‘Why is the sore on my a— inflamed to stay?’”
This will, of course, be automatically posted as your Facebook status and you will learn that you have Tweeted it to every one of your Twitter followers.
All seriousness aside, I suppose there could be some value in a watch/telephone one could wear on one’s wrist. For instance, if you are one of those people who likes walking around with the BlueTooth thing sticking out of your ear, by switching to a watch phone you would no longer have people like me walking up and saying, “Uhura, contact the away team and let them know to be on the lookout for Klingons.” And when you’re sitting in church, no longer will your child have to keep saying, “Daddy, what time is it?” Instead, they can just lean over your watch, during an especially quiet and prayerful time, and say, “Watch, what time is it?” and everyone—but especially your child—will be thrilled to have their worship time interrupted by a polite lady’s voice saying, “The time is eleven-fifteen a.m., the outside temperature is 79 and you have eight new email messages from the ‘Hair Club for Men’.”
Which brings to mind a story this week about people who are flocking to a town called Green Bank, West Virginia (yes, I looked this up and there really is, I swear, a place called “West” Virginia) not for the free wi-fi, but because it is wi-fi free. No wireless internet, no cell phone coverage, virtually nothing that is sent from one device to another by anything other than good ol’ coaxial cable. Most of the people who are flocking there are doing so because all the radio waves and wi-fi signals, etc. of the modern world are making them sick. You can’t blame them. I used to have an allergy to living, growing plants, so I moved to the panhandle.
But I wonder how many people are moving there strictly because they want to remember what it’s like to go to a restaurant and not only talk to the person they are sitting with, but see that other people are doing the same? Personally, I’m wondering if Green Bank needs a minister.
*Remember “Swatches”? They were wristbands that looked like watches, but didn’t actually tell time. I made fun of them when they were popular, but if these telephone watches start becoming commonplace, I’m going to eat my words and wish for Swatches to come back.