Initial Thoughts about Smart Watches
Sometimes we need to take a step back from modern technology and appreciate some of the simpler things in this world. Everything we do in our daily routine is scheduled with the foundation of time, and naturally the go to instrument is the clock. After all a clock is an instrument used to indicate, keep, and co-ordinate time. I remember as a child I owned many watches, my favorite was a Tag Heuer that I wore until it literally fell apart. It wasn’t until late last year that I noticed I was not wearing anything on my wrist, I thought it was so odd that now my go to choice of instrument for time, was an iPhone. I felt it was bad habit and unstylish for me not to wear a watch, I immediately started researching and pricing nice watches. As a college student with champagne taste and cool aid money, I quickly found myself discouraged with my available options. Sure I could settle for an inexpensive digital watch from Wal Mart and the problem would be solved. Then it hit me like a brick, nobody wants to wear a twenty dollar watch, that after all it only displays time, when in their back pocket is a device that can tweet and email globally quicker then I can get a midtown cab ride. I was determined and did not stop searching, I knew there had to be a mixture of modern technology and a beautiful, sharp casual dress watch combo.
Hunting Down the Perfect Smart Watch
My search became tangible when I attended The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year in Las Vegas. The convention center was spilling with technology, my first day I walked over thirteen miles, yes a half marathon! Tucked in the health and fitness section was a group of companies that had a variety of solutions for me to spend time with. First there was the CooKoo watch, an analog and digital hybrid that promised to keep you connected to both a timepiece and your phone. Then was the I’m Watch, an overpriced watch that was more advanced then needed to be, even Dick Tracey would have been frustrated with such a device, its price point is embarrassingly ridiculous. Pebble Watch was impossible to meet with, and has a horrible PR firm, but they should after all their device does nothing more then allow you to change the display of the watch. They were the most disappointing of all, who raises ten million in crowd funding and then fails to deliver what was promised. Its pure junk, a five-cent children’s watch has greater performance.
Finally there was your super advanced exercise watch, some offered heart rate monitoring without a chest strap, GPS, daily fitness tracking, and even one that encourages young children to exercise. All of those are great devices, and close to what I am looking for, but I still was unable to discover that perfect combo. Then it happened, searching through YouTube videos, and hundreds of written reviews I stumbled upon the Citizen Proximity watch. I have always desired to try a Citizen watch; they have won numerous awards and great recognition for their Eco Drive technology. So I reached out and was allowed the opportunity to get my hands on one to review for you.
Understanding Watches That Use Bluetooth Technology
Any and all watches that connect to a smart device use Bluetooth to pair both devices. Bluetooth alone is a stable, low energy, and now a secure way for one device to speak to another. Its simple function is that of a tiny little short wave radio station, one is sending out a signal the other is receiving. Its limited by a distance of thirty feet, and for the time being does not work well through or around walls and solid objects. In my opinion this will improve over time, but it will never go past the thirty foot limitation, after all if your going any further then you are probably moving around with both devices. This is known as a personal area network (PAN).
Bluetooth technology has matured recently and now is on version 4.0 and is not reversibly compatible. So if you are buying a new Bluetooth device, such as a smart watch, and you own an iPhone 3GS your going to have to step your game up and move into a 4S or higher. It simply will not work!
Misunderstanding and Understanding Bluetooth Technology
Many people complain that Bluetooth devices have issues keeping a signal connected, and are saying that devices are getting dropped. There is more then one reason why people say this, and without properly understanding why this is happening their complaint becomes unnecessarily dramatic. When in fact the device is actual doing exactly as intended. When I was a child I left the rear reading light on in my mothers Jaguar, and when she was ready to start her day the next morning the car wouldn’t start, we all have done this. Well Bluetooth devices can do this if they are left on running or idle all the time. Citizen for example has a six-hour max that their watch will stay connected, and then it automatically disconnects. This is a courtesy so when you go to look at the time on your wrist it is still keeping accurate time, and the opposite device is still up and running so you can call home. This is the where the majority of complaints are coming from, and the solution is simple. With the Citizens Proximity watch you need to hold one of two buttons down for two second, and the six hours re starts. It’s designed this way because you are simply reminding each device that in fact you want to use them together for another six hours. I believe that when people start to understand this and develop a habit for reminding their devices then this complaint will significantly reduce.
The other side to the complaint is more technical as opposed to a new habit users need to develop. As with all electrical devices they are using software, and that software or application is the information system directing traffic from one device to another. That is one reason why it is so important to always update your applications. Developers can tweak applications to reduce dropping connections, offer more functionality, and implement functionality that was never advertised when you first purchased your Bluetooth device.
This is a very good thing, it helps keep a device exciting and will make users happier as they see the performance of their product improving. As an information system professional I can say that this will never change, applications will change constantly. Keep in mind; when the operating system on your iPhone goes from iOS 6 to iOS 7 then the application will need to be adjusted accordingly. Apple often times removes various annoying restrictions when a new iOS version is released. With the Citizen Proximity watch you cannot receive text message notifications, and customers are complaining. The complaint should not be directed to Citizen, believe me would love to unlock the floodgates and provide more functionality. This is purely happening because Apple is enforcing certain restrictions; over time there will be less and less restrictions.
Finally the number one issue and where most complaints come from are unbelievably easy to fix. Devices that are using Bluetooth will not work correctly if they are not fully charged. Bluetooth uses low energy and is doing a great job at helping reserve and not waste power. You need to charge your devices! The Citizen watch will not operate if there is not a charge somewhere between half and full. Its like trying to drive a Cadillac on fumes, the car is too heavy it needs fuel.
I hope this helped you get a better understanding of how smart watches interact with smart devices. I will be posting various updates as smart watch technology improves, and more devices become available. Please keep a look out for my full review of the Citizen Proximity watch. I believe that out of all the smart watches that I have reviewed that the Citizen Proximity watch will be the clear winner.