Sara's Column: Long way to go for wearable tech

I always loved those little Star Trek communicator pins.
Jan 17, 2014

I always loved those little Star Trek communicator pins.

How cool would it be to just tap this little gadget to touch base with your orbiting home base while you’re off exploring some new world?

It seems crazy to me to realize that we can kind of do just that – staying relatively earthbound for now, though. 

Wearable communication technology is everywhere now, and it seems like a new type is coming out every other year.

When saw the first Bluetooth headsets years ago, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. You didn’t even have to hold your phone; it was almost as convenient as talking to someone face-to-face.

Unfortunately, they quickly started coming off as obnoxious. You’d see people all the time walking around with these little thumb-sized gadgets hooked on their ears as they sat in restaurants or walked into movie theaters.

They’d start talking, and you’d never know if they were talking to you or to the voices in their heads.

The word “pretentious” came to my mind.

So as much as I intrigued by this nifty new technology, it took me a few years before I caved and bought one. 

And even now, as much as I love my Bluetooth for when I’m driving, I’m highly self-conscious about wearing it when I’m not driving.

I thought about this when I heard about Google Glasses.

Don’t get me wrong, Google Glasses sound awesome. To basically have a little computer monitor within line-of-sight and hands-free any time? What geek wouldn’t want one?

But they’re so conspicuous. 

Even Samsung’s Galaxy Gear – that “smartwatch” that basically lets you access your smartphone from your wrist – is still a little too conspicuous for my taste, although it’s better than the Google Glasses.

I can’t say for sure why I’m so adamant that wearable technology be inconspicuous, but I think it has a lot to do with courtesy.

To me, there’s an implied message of, “You may or may not be important enough to hold my attention. We’ll see,” when you see someone with the Bluetooth hooked to their ear or constantly checking their smartwatch.

Or walking around wearing a big, honking pair of Google Glasses.

As much as I love my gadgets, I also try not to play with my cellphone when I’m talking to someone. I’ve been on the receiving end of that too many times – I’d say most everyone has nowadays – and it’s always struck me as incredibly rude.

If I’m going to talk with someone, I want to be fully engaged in the conversation.

With a lot of the wearable tech, that element of distraction never goes away.

Of the wearable tech coming out right now, though, the Galaxy Gear seems the most promising to me, but only if the design becomes a little less “out there.”

And I think if any tech manufacturer hopes to stand a chance with a wearable technology, they need to go as inconspicuous as possible.

After all, I’d like to be able to at least pass for a non-geek at times.

Sara McManamy-Johnson is the digital content director for The Lebanon Democrat and Wilson County News. Email her at sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com or follow her on Twitter          @wilsoncoreports.

 

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