This week, Samsung added another product to its much-famed Galaxy line – the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The ironically-titled smartwatch, meant for people too stupid to take their phone out from their pocket in order to determine time, is said to revolutionise how people lie about reaching somewhere “in five minutes”.
For my generation, the wrist watch has died a natural death. Despite temporary phases of resurgence where we willingly allowed “chunky” watches to make our wrists resemble Marwari women at wedding ceremonies, we let the wrist watch become a relic of the past. If your mother gifted you an expensive one as a graduation present, chances are you’d sell it on eBay to buy cocaine. Yet, so integral has a wristwatch been to the human experience that we are continuously trying to reinvent it for the next generation. So here we are, with technology giants trying to seduce us with visions of the future through a product that is already redundant. I for one can hardly wait to see Mercedes’s spin on the bullock cart.
Cynicism aside, let’s look at the positives. Unlike Samsung phones, for which the company launches a new screen size depending on employee penis size — I’m sorry; that’s racist. The politically correct observation is that the screen size depends on the number of English words known by a South Korean factory worker. But anyway, the point is that the Galaxy Gear comes with a dazzling 1.6 inch display. Also unlike their phones where the plastic is sourced from neighbourhood balloon sellers, the watch is built partly from stainless steel. Here is where it starts to go downhill.
The watch has to constantly be paired with your Android device through Bluetooth. For phones that already have spectacular battery life that can go up to minutes, the last thing you want is another thing sucking it dry. You can also navigate through the watch via voice recognition. Indians already talk on their phones in public spaces as if they’re sipping chai from the saucer. Do we really need to give them another device to do the same? There is no way to avoid looking like a terrorist if you’re a shopkeeper and shouting “Shaam tak maal pahunch jaana chahiye” into your wrist.If that was not enough, the smartwatch also comes equipped with video playback and a camera.
Do we not have enough creepy men running around cities trying to click up-skirt shots that we’re now providing them devices that make it easier? And who are these people who love watching Ashutosh Gowariker movies on stamps? What a mind-blowingly immersive, high definition experience it would be! I don’t know if I should buy it now or wait for next year when the watch will be 1 gram lighter, 1 mm thinner and be 3D compatible with marketing guys telling me that it will change my life forever.
I’ll be honest. I’m a gadget freak and an early adopter. When I bought a Playstation Vita, even the Sony dealership double-checked to see if I suffered from dementia. However, I’m tired of technology giants’ obsession with creating new categories of products without working on fundamental solutions. Yes, it is important to stand out and yes, innovation is a constant process, but can we also spend that time fixing things that are broken? How about better batteries instead of making them rubbish on purpose just so you can sell battery pack accessories? How about a phone that doesn’t turn into a toaster if you use it for 30 minutes? How about a charger whose wire doesn’t turn Bengali and stop working after an hour?
Maybe if we started with that, I’d consider buying devices that serve a purpose beyond looking shiny in the hands of models.