SPOT Watches

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 🙂

Comments (4)

  1. Anonymous says:

    People did laugh at the first PDA – the Apple Newton, the first mobile phones were a very niche market – they could only be installed in cars due to power requirements and size and the first laptops were the old luggables. SPOT is a very interesting idea the question I have is, are they really consumer-ready or just another niche product? What seems to be missing from the current implementation is any kind of two-way aspect – so you can get an instant message, but you can’t respond, you can find out if you have an appointment but you can’t change the time. What I’d love is some way to tie this in with another device; which could act as a form of comms hub…with keyboard, decent screen etc (Pocket PC anyone), so the SPOT could act as an output device for the main unit but that unit could be connected with, say 3G – enabling video etc…to stream to / from your watch, that combined with a bluetooth headset wouyld provide a pretty compact video-calling system…anyway, just dreaming again 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    You receive an IM on your SPOT watch then whip out the Smartphone and log in to Messenger 🙂

    (I love my E200).

    Tim, any word on if/when the SPOT watch service will come to the UK?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Scott, I agree that simple interactivity would be nice but the current FM broadcast technology isn’t suited for this. We’ll have to wait for truly pervasive wireless Internet technologies to make this a reality, I guess. I’m not sure that’s the critical missing factor for adoption though. For the time being, a simpler interface to a computer would help rather than relying on a broadcast signal – some kind of Bluetooth connection as you suggest that would allow the download of new applications, watch faces and syncing of contact/calendar info. The key factor in mass market acceptance of these devices is cost, I think. When you can buy a cheap one for $50 / £30 rather than $180 / £100 – that’s when these discussions will become academic.

    Richard, sorry – I can’t offer you any information on MSN Direct in the UK.

  4. Anonymous says:

    When TAG do one I may be interested but in the meantime I’ll stick to my e200 Smartphone (I love it too). BTW Richard, are you interested in beta testing a moblogging app / service for the e200?

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