Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Are You iWatching?
I have just bought a 1936 Imperial Companion 1 portable typewriter and it now sits proudly on my desk alongside today’s technology. Is it practical? Well not with my poor spelling and tendency to rework things. Does it work? Yes and has a black and red ribbon which will one day need replacing. Did I buy it to work? Well not really, I thought it of it as more of a fusion of art and technology and a statement. The typewriter played a major role in influencing where we are today. With my wife being granted a Royal Warrant for her bookselling, I also love the Royal Warrant stamp on the Typewriter dedicated to the late King George V.
So what has this to do with last week’s latest technology announcement of an iWatch from Apple?
Well no one will expect the iWatch to survive nearly eighty years and work. With our consumable technology today it’s hard to find one of those early brick mobile phones let alone some of the early portable PCs and the life expectancy of many is a mere few years. However, it is possible to see the iWatch as an evolutionary step to shrink technology, change app development and create a fashion icon to rival the Sinclair C5, Delorean car, Google’s Glass and others. But as an investment it is very high risk and not even a gamble.
Apple has with the iWatch put a placeholder on the market re wearable technology. The iWatch itself is not the first technology watch, remember those very first digital watches and more recently the eink ones and even more recently the competitors to the iWatch. Apple has the clout and the followers to sell enough to cover their stake, but is it a game changer? Do you want to buy the mark1 version knowing mark2 is probably in the labs today and it will only have a life expectancy of some 2 years?
I look at my analogue Longines watch, it is a designer statement, practical and been around for many years. Would I replace it with a clunky piece of technology that says ‘look at me iam a geek’?
Wearable technology will happen but exactly how and when is debatable and the challenge it has is that it now has to compete with smartphones that can do everything it can do and much, much more.
Eink technology was transient and could never be anything else than a monochrome offer in a Technicolor world, but they established ebooks. Tablets were always going to be caught between the home and the smartphone and when the smartphone fits into a pocket and laptops became lighter and thinner, there was only going to be one mobile winner. Print on demand would show the potential to do short runs but fail to deliver the ultimate ‘distribute and print’ model.
So as devices themselves become ‘smarter’ and connected does the smartphone become the communications hub as predicted by our friend and futurist Ray Hammond? As Bluetooth and WiFi expand does wearable technology move close to the sensor nodes and speech, gestures, image and smell recognition become the real wearable technology?
Jill O’Neill, Director Professional Development, NFAIS, raised a interesting comment ‘Why can't Apple design and build the Star Trek tricorder instead?’ Now we both would be very interested in one of them!