By now, we all know too well how technology has made sure our lives have changed forever. Besides the usual arguments that we get into with random people about how social media and mobile devices have turned us into screen zombies (through social media sites on our mobile devices) — now we have to deal with a new wave of ‘wearables’.
Yes, I’m talking about that one space which was relatively less talked about until a few years ago, and has now become a battleground for the tech-giants… the watch, aka the smartwatch. Why I picked this topic to talk about isn’t much about the technology itself, because it’s been a good couple of years since it’s been around, but more about how we have let something as basic as a watch change the way we behave around people.
Someone out there must have thought, “Ok, let’s see…we have the phones doing their bit. Let’s look at watches becoming the next big, err, screen.” And what perfect timing at that! In the times of chia seeds and couscous dictating your daily caloric intake, why not add gadgets in the mix and make things even more interesting? Enter, the smartwatch! Apart from being that nagging reminder for you to take those extra steps per hour, the smart watch also makes sure you remember to pick up that carton of milk on your way back from work, lest you forget. Let me rephrase that…lest you forget to peep into your phone’s screen for the 26000th time in the last 40 minutes. Your appointments, anniversaries, steps, calories, they are all there on your wrist now.
In case, you decide to look away from your phone out of sheer disgust of that screen staring at you nice and bright, you have another screen waiting to launch at you. I recently came across someone who mentioned, “If my run is not recorded on my smartwatch, I don’t consider it exercise.” Slow claps for you, O runner of the terabytes. If it’s not on the watch, no calories are burnt. It surely gives a new meaning to the phrase, ‘Not on my watch!’
Earlier, continuously checking your watch was a sign of restlessness and/or boredom. For example, if you are sitting through a long lecture, you’d continuously keep checking the minutes and the seconds hands of your watch, ticking away so agonisingly slowly that you really could claim you have the superpower of freezing time and space and dimensions.
Recently, I was in a meeting to discuss some comics ideas and I couldn’t help but get distracted by the fact that the person sitting across was constantly nosediving into his sweaty wrist to peep into his watch. There I was, at a mental crossroad, ‘Are my ideas really THAT bad, that he wants to get out of this misery?’ or ‘Is he timing his bladder control zen?’ It didn’t take me too long after that to realise that the man was constantly reading his WhatsApp messages popping up on his wrist.
So what might the future have in store? What new intrusive gadgets are waiting in the wings to pounce on us? How about smart socks, smart undies, smart nose-rings, smart whatnots? I do believe smart shirts are a thing right now. Oh well, after all, I typed out this story as soon as I got a reminder on my smart watch. You see, if you can’t beat them, join them!
(The writer is a comic creator, illustrator and animator)