I’ve managed to get my hands on a SPOT watch, which is the latest geek toy doing the rounds in Redmond. These watches can pull down Outlook appointments, instant messages, news updates and so on using MSN and some FM subcarrier technology. Unfortunately, I’m based in the UK, which means I’m out of range for these services at the moment. It’s still a pretty neat idea: I can see the benefits of having a device small enough to be strapped to your wrist. I see there’s been a fair amount of criticism about them, but I think people are missing the point. People laughed at the first PDAs, mobile phones and laptops, deriding them for their bulkiness, limited battery life and feature set.
But these SPOT watches are simply first generation devices. In a couple of years, wireless Internet technologies will be more pervasive, display technologies, miniaturisation and mass production will have their effect, and these devices will become far more valuable than they are today. Since they run a cut down version of the .NET Framework (you can actually check the version of mscorlib from the Settings menu!), there will be thousands of tiny applications written for them. “Channels” covering everything from mini-games to contact databases and business utilities will be available, and at that point I believe these devices will really start to take off. The vision is sound – whether Microsoft or another vendor becomes the lead supplier of these devices is, however, still up for grabs.
So if you see me walking round with a bulky black object attached to my wrist and a battery pack attached to my shoulder, don’t laugh at me – I’m just an early adopter 🙂