Wearables or smartwatches are the new hype for nerds and will definetly go mainstream next year with the arrival of the
But the big question is... Do you need one? A lot has been written about the new wave of smartwatches, how they give you one more thing to charge each night or how they could free us from fiddling with our phones but will just end up being another thing to fiddle with.
I don't think most people will need it, because then it should completely replace your phone instead of giving you another screen to look at...
But we are not most people, we are scientists!
The first really useful smartwatch has already been on the market for more than a year: the Pebble Smartwatch. It is less complicated than Google's Android Wear or Apple's Watch, but it gets the job done and most of all, thanks to it's "E-paper" screen (as used on e-books) you can use it for up to a week without charging it.
After wearing this a year I can tell you why you should buy it:
Imagine this: you are sitting in the lab, doing you pipetting, working sterile in your flow bench, .... Then suddenly: your phone starts to vibrate in your pocket.
What is it?
Is it important?
And bingo, you have just lost your attention...
The easiest solution is to leave your phone at your desk, but of course we don't do that.
The worst solution is to take your phone out of your pocket, rub those transgenic E. coli on your touchscreen (we have all seen people doing it right?)
All you need is a little glance at your wrist and you immediately see that your paper got accepted in Nature (yeah right!), or who is calling/texting/mailing you. Then you can decide if it is important enough to take of your gloves, exit the lab, and (all according to your lab rules) take out your phone.
Same applies to my bicycle commute:
you can use it as a cycling computer with Strava, change the track or volume on Spotify, and you can even... see what time it is! which is still the most important function of a watch.
What it can't do?
make calls, because.. you know that is just silly right?
Write texts (sorry but I struggle on a 5 inch phone to get the correct letter... I don't want to type on a watch!)
And always.... keep your manners!
if it is impolite to use your phone during a meeting, then the same goes for looking at your watch, people will think you are in a hurry, not interested, ...
Of course if you have a vibrating phone and watch you will be definitely distracted, so perhaps you should either learn to ignore your phone or put it on
airplane meeting mode...
Which watch should you buy?
At this moment you can choose between three smartwatches:
Pebble Smartwatch: not as advanced as Google's or Apple's wearables but this watch will do the basics perfectly and give you a long battery life that can actually survive a long haul flight.
Samsung, LG, Motorola, Asus, Sony,... all have smartwatches coming out with Android Wear. These have some very cool features like searching google by just asking "Ok Google, how many microliters in one milliliter?" But unfortunately the battery life is still terrible and you won't get 24h of use out of it.. especially if you, you know, actually use it.
The Apple Watch. Will only be available at the beginning of 2015, a lot of gimmicks and then of course the same functions as the other watches for an Apple price with a nice design. Battery life of this first version will also be poor...
If you want to be able to check your smartphone's notifications in the lab or at other places/moments you can't take your phone out, here is the solution: a smartwatch!
If you just want to know the time, just buy a regular classy watch, the battery will last a decade and its design even longer.