When the PC was born, it was a clunky thing with two floppy disks, a slow processor and a black and white screen. You couldn’t do much with it. The OS sat on one disk and a word processor sat on the other. But it was easier to use than a typewriter. It had more functionality than a typewriter. So it replaced the typewriter.
As it got older, the PC became smaller, more powerful and more colourful. It automated everything: words, pictures, spreadsheets, audio and video.
Then it ran out of new things to do. Of course, some people connected it up to a grid so that it could be used to solve other people’s problems in organic synthesis, protein and RNA engineering when they weren’t using it to email their friends. But they didn’t buy a new one every two years like they used to simply because they didn’t have to. So the computer companies weren’t making any money. Someone had to do something about it.
And this week, someone did.
Microsoft to be exact. The very company that brought us the revered DOS operating system back in the 1980s has now redefined the future of computing. And where is it to be found? On the wrist, that’s where.
Yes that’s right. Smart wristwatches – which display ‘relevant, customised information broadcast across an innovative wide-area wireless network’ (their words not mine) – will be available in the fall of this year, according to none other than Microsoft’s very own Bill Gates.
The first ‘smart watches,’ will be created by watchmakers Citizen, Fossil and Suunto. They’re built on Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT), a new ‘technology platform’ designed to ‘improve the functionality and usefulness of everyday objects’ (their words not mine).
It seems such an obvious logical step forward, doesn’t it? It’s one of those ideas that you just wish that you had thought of first, isn’t it? Is it? Well, maybe not. It strikes me like the chaps at Microsoft have actually run out of ideas here. Personally, I think the ‘smart’ Internet connected watch, running machine, refrigerator, and kettle are just plain ‘dumb’. Whatever next? The Java enabled mousetrap?
I could be wrong though. Donald Brewer, vice president for technology for Fossil, sees a lot of potential in the idea.
‘(Think of) a businessman who travels for a living. He lands in New York, and immediately his watch updates itself to the current time, without him having to think about it. Because he has pre-selected a channel for New York weather information, he looks at his watch to find the weather forecast. He doesn’t need to get onto his cell phone and spend however long it is to connect to his carrier to find out if it’s going to rain. He can see that information very quickly on his watch. He can also glance at news, stock closings, sports scores – all the information that he would normally pick up when he’s sitting at his laptop in the morning back in the office. However, all this information now appears on his wrist wherever he goes,’ he said.
OK, it’s true. There are people like this. I’ve met them. And they do this sort of thing. But I don’t. So I won’t be buying the watch. Even if it attracted lots of cute looking girls, I wouldn’t buy it.
Actually, if it could do that, then I might.