I feel like I’m in a stress position best suited for wartime torture sessions. My wrist has been held up close to my mouth for five minutes and already I can feel a dull ache begin to seep into my arm. But this is no prison cell; I’m talking to my friend on a Samsung Gear S smartwatch, a nifty gadget that works as a watch, smartphone, pedometer and heart-rate monitor.
As cool as the Gear S may be for the early adopter, I just can’t get behind smartwatches for the simple reason of discomfort. I don’t like holding a wrist to my mouth to use the watch as a phone…and I doubt I ever will.
With all the buzz and hype over wearables, function and comfort needs to be the centrepiece of any product rollout. But does Samsung and Apple expect us to migrate from the ease of cellphone use to talking to our colleagues via our wrists?
Wait, you say, there are Bluetooth devices for your high-maintenance issues, David! Sure, but we don’t all enjoy a device clipped to our ear, and there are times when you truly wants to be hands-on with your communications device.
Which brings me to another challenge smartwatches will have for the consumer market: texting. Some smartphones already have small enough screens for the large-fingered among us, but now a watch like the Gear S makes texting even more of a struggle. I preferred using the voice-activated controls on the Gear S to text friends, much like I use Siri on my iPhone 5, but it’s not an applicable process all the time. Sometimes, we want to text “old school” with fingers and thumbs. And I found a smartwatch was unable to make that process easy or comfortable.
That’s not to say the Gear S and its ilk will find a home with wearables enthusiasts. It’s very cool to have one device that tracks your heart-rate during a run and then lets you scroll through recent headlines and can allow you to check email on the go. Oh yeah, it tells time too.
But if you’re like me, and you simply can’t picture holding your wrist up to your mouth for more than a minute (and not just because it looks silly), then you’ll likely yawn when smartwatches fill shelves. Some technologies just aren’t worth our time.