There are many fads today, some on the uptick; others on the wane. Snapchat, an app that allows you to share a moment with a friend via a photo and a few words and then quickly disappears, is up. Smartwatches are on the wane for the most part. So was Google Glass a few years ago, but it has been reborn primarily for industry and is making a comeback as Google Glass Enterprise Edition (Google Glass EE). I tend to be a late follower as opposed to an early leader. Maybe that is a good thing because all of those people that bought the Google Glass when it was first introduced in 2013 probably regret that purchase. It was a nifty idea. A pair of glasses that could look up information, record a video, or take a picture while on the go. The trouble was, no one foresaw the pushback from others who resented having their picture taken or activity recorded without permission. Google Glass died.
I noticed a lot of people in the past year wearing a smartwatch. It seemed the “cool” thing to do. It could record the number of steps one took every day, assess heart rate, track the soundness of sleep, and give an estimate of daily calories burned. Who wouldn’t want to know all that stuff! I was intrigued by the many folks constantly checking the little black bands on their wrists. So I bought one too. Smartwatches range in price from less than $50 to over $200. I opted for one in the middle range that could give me input on the number of steps I took in a day, my resting and active heart rate, sleep pattern, and calorie count. It also gave the current temperature and forecast, among a few other options.
Smartwatches work in conjunction with a smart phone, from which you download an app. In my case it was the Garmin Connect app as I bought a Garmin Vivosmart HR. I can’t say how precisely accurate all of its information is, because there is no way for me to compare much of it. I did compare the heart rate displayed against my blood pressure monitor, though, and found it to be on the button. Therefore, in a general sense I finally have a way to track my heart rate, resting and during work or exercise. I found that info useful because it will notify if you are overdoing it or under doing some activity. You can look up the range for heart rates online for both men and women by age and you will get a good gauge as to how you might compare with the standards. The number of steps taken each day is a good indicator too of physical activity. Good or bad, the watch vibrates when it feels you need to move, in other words, you aren’t being active enough. I found that a good cardio exercise like a Zumba session would push me way over the daily goal suggested for my age. On the days I just went to the gym and used the machines with no cardio my numbers were far lower and I burned fewer calories. So this information I find useful to direct what I need to do in order to stay fit.
Readers can argue that if you stick your phone in your pocket, there are free apps out there that will track your steps. That is true, but if you are moving around in a Zumba class or playing tennis there is a good chance the phone could fall out and become damaged. Wearing a watch is less troublesome and far lighter than the larger phone. The watch requires that it be charged via a USB cable every five days, and you must remember to synch it with your Garmin app each morning and evening.
So far, I found that I sometimes forget to set it up to record an activity such as cardio until I am into the exercise, but it will still record heart rates and steps, but not “activity calories”. How long will I continue to use this watch? I can’t say. It seems like it is a current fad. Chances are I will lose interest in constantly consulting it and, at some point, wear it less often. As for the Google Glass EE that debuted this year, it seems to be selling well, unlike the first model. Instead of becoming a consumer item, industry is adopting it to help workers lookup and find instructions for tasks they are doing without having to stop and consult a computer or tablet. If, for example, you had to wire custom made products, the ability to easily read a step by step set of instructions while you were wiring increases productivity and reduces errors.
The worker can also photograph an item that might be faulty and get immediate feedback from the quality control group as to whether to proceed or not. The new model also incorporates a green light that activates when it is recording, to make others aware a record is in process. In this way no one can feel their privacy has been invaded, the reason leading to the demise of the previous consumer edition. Time will tell if these items are electronic fads and will come and go. Google Glass looks like it is being reborn in a new way that is innovative and far more useful. I believe the smartwatch could be improved. Perhaps if it could receive voice commands instead of having to be set up manually for each exercise, it might be easier to use. Knowing what’s a fad and what’s not is sometimes hard to discern. One easy test for that is checking the garage sales, thrift stores, and classifieds. If an item keeps appearing for sale a year after introduction, chances are it is a fad and you shouldn’t waste your money.