Image source: A Blog to Watch. Click on the image to read their Apple Watch review.
It’s hard to remember a world without smartphones, but their current iteration has only been around for eight years.
It’s remarkable, really. After the debut of the iPhone in 2007, it took less than 10 years for most of us to begin carrying supercomputers in our pockets. Our smartphones have an always-on internet connection, a huge amount of processing power, and a growing number of powerful sensors. They are a technological revolution, and we have embraced it with open arms.
But the revolution isn’t over. Now Apple and Google–the two companies vying for control of the supercomputer in your pocket—want to take over the place on your wrist.
The Apple Watch, Android Wear, and the Pebble watch all seek to make your life better by giving you bite-sized, glance-able information without having to pull out your phone. But they can do even more than that. They hold advanced sensors that track your heartbeat, the number of steps you take, the calories you’ve burned, and the number of times you’ve stood up. They can pair with your phone to extend your applications to your wrist for quick views and replies. And that’s just the beginning.
The Rise of the Quantified Self
There’s a movement that’s been around for a while called “the quantified self.” It’s used to describe people who use technology to track all manner of statistics about their behaviors, habits, and biological data. With the Apple Watch entering the mainstream market (and perhaps more importantly, the mainstream consciousness), we’ll all be quantified soon.
Adherents of the Quantified Self spend much of their time measuring their biological signals, or their emotional states, or their degree of productivity. Wearable tech automates a lot of this data collection. Devices such as the Fitbit have been offering this for years for specific applications like step-tracking, and sleep tracking.
Source: marco.org, by Marco Arment. Screenshot of the Apple Watch Activity app. Click the image to read Marco’s piece “Filling the Green Circle.”
The Apple Watch has this functionality built in, with the promise of much more as the platform matures. Baseline fitness and health data like steps and heart rates are calculated automatically, while more manual recording is made even easier when it only requires a moment of interaction—the sort of interaction you have on a small watch face—to input the data. That data is there for you to interpret at the end of the day, when you have the time.
These interactions will become more commonplace as the Apple Watch and similar devices become more popular. The cloud of personal information that follows you around will become larger, more specific, and more helpful as both hardware and software continue to improve.
“Our Most Personal Device Yet”
When the Apple Watch was announced, Tim Cook called it “our most personal device yet,” and he was right. Macs are something you work on and leave on a desk; iPads slip into a bag or a purse; iPhones are always with you in your pocket. The Apple Watch is something you will wear all day as jewelry. Jewelry is personal, and 21st century jewelry comes with a screen and sensors.
Jewelry has always been a way express ourselves to the outside world. To make statements. 21st century jewelry talks back, through information. 21st century jewelry requires attention.
It’s another revolution, even if it takes more than 10 years for us all to start wearing them.