Smartwatches have existed long before the Apple Watch. Digital watches have been around since the 1920s and since then there have been a number of watches that have expanded the functions of the traditional wristwatch and computerised it. Smartwatches appeared in popular culture, long before they even existed but gave people the idea to develop the real thing.
Smartwatches in popular culture
Dick Tracy was a comic strip started in 1931 which later became a tv show. The detective, Dick Tracy was famous for his two-way radio wristwatch and would become his signature accessory. In the 1960s, the model was upgraded to include video. Apple CEO Tim Cook even said Tracy’s wristwatch and TV watch was an inspiration for the Apple Watch.
How smartwatches have evolved over time
In 1982, the Seiko TV Watch was launched in Japan. It was not only a watch but incorporated a television and could also be used to listen to the radio. The TV could last for about five hours on two AA batteries and the cost of the watch was USD$495. To watch TV, the watch had to be connected to a TV/radio receiver which was about the size of a tape recorder that you carried in your pocket. Then to listen, you had to wear headphones which were connected to the receiver.
The first time a watch was able to make a phone call was Samsung Electronics SPH-WP10 watch phone, which combined the functions of a digital watch with wireless communication. It allowed the caller to speak for up to 90 minutes.
In the early 2000s, Microsoft was investing billions of dollars to develop smartwatch technology to revolutionise the workplace. They partnered with the likes of Citizen, Fossil, Suunto and Swatch, which contained Microsoft’s new software. The smartwatch wearer was able to check the weather, read the news, check stocks and moreover a wireless radio frequency network that Microsoft had created. Unfortunately, these watches were not a success. Today, Apple and Fitbit are the most successful brands in the smartwatch market.
Smartwatches being used in healthcare
Not only can smartwatches be used to track fitness, but they are now being worn by seniors to track their health. An easy-to-use interface makes it easier for elderly people to use these devices and they don’t even have to be connected to a smartphone. People in their later stage of life are much more likely to experience a fall and these smartwatches can be used as a personal alarm service. These devices are equipped with fall detection and will ask the wearer if they have fallen over. The watch then sends an alert to the monitoring centre so that a staff member can speak to the person who has fallen and asked if they need to alert a family member or emergency services to get help quickly.
The devices also come with built-in GPS so the person can be located even if they are unable to respond. These smartwatches also monitor heart rate and count the wearer’s daily steps taken.
In closing, more and more people are choosing to wear a smartwatch because they are making our everyday lives easier. Now people can pay for their groceries, listen to music and monitor their fitness on a smartwatch with the added bonus of not having to take your phone with you. For seniors, the best thing about wearing a smartwatch that doubles as a personal alarm are that it doesn’t draw attention and gives them peace of mind when they are in their home or outside.