Your watch is watching you

I wore a watch on a continuous basis 25 years ago, back in college when the killer app for that device was telling time. Even when there were no cellphones, I always thought of watches as a piece of jewelry and a handcuff, and I am not into any of them. Cellphones changed all that. The way we track time is changing with the times.

Today, I don’t see many teenagers wearing a watch. It’s just not a thing any more. After all, the killer app of telling time is now in your pocket.

“We don’t need to check our watches anymore. Our watches check us”, is something I heard from daughter’s friend. The watches she was referring to are obviously mobile phones with all the calendars, reminders, alarms and events that beep and vibrate when the time comes. Today, when 94% of Americans are joined at the hip to smart phones, where is the need for a watch? Not for telling time anyways.

Phones makers such as Apple and Samsung knew this. The killer app is something other than telling time, it is convenience. You already have a smartphone that does pretty much everything that a smartwatch does. Yet, some people have shelled out hundreds of dollars for the convenience of not taking out the phone from their pockets when a call or text arrives. What else is the smart watch offering though?

The early versions of smart watches didn’t offer much. Later, they added sensors to read your heartbeats, location, and activity patterns in an effort to give you some visuals into number of steps and calories. So, the new reasons for wearing watches must come from analysis of our metabolic and activity data. But how many steps we take or how well we’ve slept the night before only takes us so far. For someone like me, the only reason to put the handcuff back on will need to be something more meaningful, something that can prevent a disaster, like something related to the sudden fluctuations of my blood pressure, sugar overload in my blood, or prediction of an imminent heart attack. If the new functions and features keep on being something like paying an MP3 from my computer, I am not sure who the customer for such a product is. It’s definitely not me and definitely not the millennials (yeah! I asked them).

Of course, the sensors keeps improving, data analytics is getting better, AI and machine learning is still in its infancy and everyday a new chip or a new piece of code is making our lives more predictable and comfortable ( I am not saying happier ’cause that’s a topic for another time).

Will the watch industry keep on ticking, only time will tell.