Today I picked up my rash and purely impulsive Christmas buy, a Fossil Wrist.NET Smart watch. It was probably sub-consciously induced by the new kid who came to our school (around 1977) with a calculator on his watch. No matter that it was impossible to press any of the buttons to do even the most simple sums and that this was tremendously useless, the fact that it was on a watch with a calculator built in made it ultra cool and an instant friend maker.
Now that I have my smart watch up and running (I had to leave the building and drive halfway home before it picked up a signal) I will say that it has some value. The #1 killer feature has to be the syncing with your Outlook calender appointments. As a program manager I spend much of my day in meetings, usually going between buildings and having a list of who I am meeting next with the building and room number instantly available is reasonable useful. Yes, I also carry a PC with me everywhere, but booting it up and starting Outlook can be a weary task, especially when you are waiting for a wireless connection. Of course having a wireless PC to look at the news and weather pretty much makes the other features on Smart watch useless, but “hey” I’ve just been told that George Bush wants to build a moon base by my watch – Wow! Now I can tell everyone all sorts of useless information. The #2 killer feature has to be the atomic clock accuracy, not that this is that necessary, but timing between meetings is everything. The #3 feature is the ability to send short (15 word?) instance messages to it. Now my daugthers can send me all sort of cryptic messages like “dad, u r king. l8r. sock monkey” which translates into some form of street spiel. That makes you feel wanted by friends and family. Of course you have no ability to reply without whipping out the PC again, but I am sure, just like sticking a camera onto a cell phone that one day it will find a use in my life.
I have one huge complaint about this Smart watch and that is the packaging that it came in. A cylindical hard perspex container sealed at both ends with a metal disk that fits perfectly and tightly over the perspex. The desire was to create a lovable buying and opening experience, of dense metal with a solid feel. However unlike unpacking an iPod, which is a thrill ride, this Fossil watch was hellish. Here I am, a full blooded male struggling to get either end off the container to get at my prized watch. I felt like one of those animal experiments where you have to get the peanut out of the box for a reward. In the end my wife got fed up watching me struggle and proceeded to punch her fist through the thinner plastic covering one end. Holding back from saying to her “One day that will be a collector’s item” I was then able to wrestle the metal disk from one end in order to get at my prize. The usability packing tests could only have been done my Herculean men with no representative from the <18 or >60 age groups.
And the OS? Go to Settings->Software and the first listed item is mscorlib (87.49.59.D2). So there is a reason why it is called Wrist.NET. There are also listed Data, Native, Shell, Protocol, Channels, TimeChannel and Fossil as other software modules.
Still, I see this Smart watch as a long term investment, much like the infamous Sinclair C5, which now sells for two to three times their original sales value. A classic gadget for the early adopter male, knowing that Christmas is about buying yourself something, since only you can say what you really didn’t need, just like an iPod. I already cannot live without it.