Technology is moving faster than society’s perceptions are. That’s why the Moto 360 isn’t just a great-looking product, it’s part of a culture war. Sort of
There is something seriously wrong happening in San Francisco. No I’m not referring to the unending wave of $4 ‘artisan toast’ shops that have started appearing in that city, instead I’m talking about the fact that San Fran society’s perception of tech is failing to keep up with the speed with which said tech is progressing. Ironic considering how much of it is designed there.
This was most starkly proven in late February when a woman was attacked in a San Fran bar simply for wearing Google Glass.
Now it’s important to note that there are some pretty massive economic factors that mean it has started in San Francisco. For starters the non silicon-infused/enthused population is feeling the hurt of 6,000 Converse-wearing start-ups setting up shop in their city resulting in raised house prices and the loss of the streets to the no doubt thoroughly evil 'Google busses' that ferry the tech workforce to their out-of-town design-o-domes.
It’s a global issue, and soon we’ll start noticing it more here in the UK. Conversations in pubs will strike up in which people will loudly mention the 'Glassholes' sat at the other end of the bar.
This isn’t anything new; remember when Bluetooth headsets first appeared? What started initially as curiosity turned for many into a loathing of their users. These bloody people, wandering down high streets with an air of being SO important that they couldn’t even be arsed to manipulate their sodding hands into a gripping position around their funting phones. Shouting 'Yah, sell the orphanage stock and buy radioactive waste. Squash later?'
Look around today, however, and you’ll see many people talking through their headphones.
This is of course, where I finally get to my point, and it is the just-announced Moto 360. This smartwatch is clean cut, sexy and, crucially, it looks just like a watch. Put it side by side with a Galaxy Gear and it’s like two totally unalike things in a pod. You might get more attention for wearing the Gear, but the odds of it being positive aren’t in your favour.
The reason for that is that we’re not ready for the future. People say they want it, but ultimately society has to adjust first, like a stubborn dog who’s moved house.
How many of us are actually comfortable talking to our phones – I don’t mean to other people, I mean to your plastic pals who are fun to be with, Siri and Google Now. I’d wager that if you do it’s either to show it off or try and make it say something inappropriate.
The Moto 360 works precisely because it doesn’t force us into that box of being an "early adopter". It’s the reason Pebble has been relatively successful, and why headphones with a mic on the cable have replaced bulbous, ear-mounted lozenges with blue lights flashing on them.
Motorola has taken things even further by actually encouraging you to engage less with the device, thanks to the contextual nature of its operating system. Simply pop the directions into your phone with your hands and that’s it – your phone goes back in your pocket. Not sure which left to take? Quickly glance at your watch and it’ll show you; no faffing around in menus, it’s just there. Now that sounds useful both in terms of getting from A to B and in terms of not having a youth on a bicycle suddenly appear at speed from behind you then vanish into the sunset with your smartphone in his rascally grasp.
Google Glass is a great, revolutionary, and I loved every second it adorned my gawping face. But if I had to choose a product I would actually pay for and wear every day, it’d have to be a smartwatch. Especially if it looks like a watch and I don’t have to talk to it.