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Smartwatches did not go anywhere

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Smartwatches did not go anywhere

Posted by Rafael Lopes on .

I really don’t know why in 2014 people are excited about smartwatches and wearable stuff. It seems like we are going back in time. In the 90’s we had a lot of devices which used IRdA, and they have suddenly gone away. It is not the first time that I’ve heard that “2014 and 2015 are the wearable’s year”. We are all wrong, very wrong. Weareables have been available for decades now.

I was born in 1986, and when I was about 11 years old (this is 1997!!!) my mother gave me a birthday gift: a wristwatch that had calculator and an IRdA transmitter/receiver.

The CMD40B-1T

This is a Casio watch that has a calculator and remote controller. I can remember the price perfectly, it was 150 Brazilian Reais (which was equivalent to $150 USD in that time), but in the US this watch only cost about $29 USD and it was sold at any big box store like BestBuy or Fry’s Electronics. I got this watch on my 11th birthday and still have it until today. It works like a charm because I always remembered to take out the battery when I wasn’t using it. When I was a child/teenager, it was the terror of brick and mortar stores that sold TVs, home theater equipment and other devices that were controlled by infrared. It was hilarious to shutdown such devices at the same time via infrared, especially during World Cup games which, as a football hater was priceless for me, lol.

Look at all those buttons, aren't they gorgeous? In this photo it is in calculator feature, with learning function this 90's watch can control any [IRdA] device.
CMD40B-1T: One Watch To Rule Them All.

Look at all those buttons, aren't they gorgeous? In this photo it is in calculator feature, with learning function this 90's watch can control any [IRdA] device.

The design

Some people love it and some people hate it. Of course I’m in the lover’s group because I think it’s really beautiful; not because of the ‘retro’ style, but because I love buttons everywhere, and this watch has 19 of them. An amazing ‘BPI’ metric (buttons per inch, LOL). Still today, people are amused by this 90’s watch. I use the IRdA learning function (OLD technology) to assign someone’s office’s A/C remote control to a button. My friends are amused by it, with questions like ,“Are you controlling the air conditioner with your watch? What watch is that? Is it already on the market or is it a prototype? Is it Bluetooth or something even newer?”.

Fools.

With the learning function, you can assing any button to any command, you can have #1 to turn on the A/C and #2 to turn it off, to do so, point the remote controller to the watch, press the button you want to assign, press the button on the remote and OK, less talk, do more.
CMD40B-1T: Buttons on the front panel.

With the learning function, you can assing any button to any command, you can have #1 to turn on the A/C and #2 to turn it off, to do so, point the remote controller to the watch, press the button you want to assign, press the button on the remote and OK, less talk, do more.

CMD40B-1T: The Technology

Yes, it is a protocol, called infrared, and has existed for almost 30 years. I think it was abandoned because of the onslaught of gadgets that we have nowadays, and since infrared is a protocol that doesn’t has any kind of protection, such as passwords or frequency hopping, it would be quite hard to deal with.

But, couldn’t this be improved upon instead of ‘bluetoothize’ everything? Okay, security and range are infrared’s biggest downfalls, but about ‘plug and play’? You don’t have to pair anything, it just works! I think that infrared was abandoned because of some behavioral factors: allow me to explain…

On the left you have another Casio model with calculator only, very useful in 90's as well. On the right we have Pebble, which is doing a great job because it is a remake of a watch and not a smartphone alias in your wrist. Nice job, Pebblers! Actually I have one and love it.
Comparing to other smart watches.

On the left you have another Casio model with calculator only, very useful in 90's as well. On the right we have Pebble, which is doing a great job because it is a remake of a watch and not a smartphone alias in your wrist. Nice job, Pebblers! Actually I have one and love it.

Philosophy

Many, many times we are tied to some technology just because it is trendy (or money driven), and we forget to study and improve upon old protocols and reuse old stuff – stuff that was good in the past but could be even better in the future, if enhanced. Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon occuring in our society, not only in technology, but in every single aspect of modern life.

Human beings love the ‘yao’ (yet another one) way of doing things. This is a behavior that has good and bad sides: transformation is a good side of it, but indifference is negative and cause the ‘yet another one’ effect. Transformations are sometimes are so minor, that we barely pay attention to them: GitHub and BitBucket, Slack and Glip/[HipChat]/Flowdock/Campfire, Dropbox/SkyDrive/Copy/Box/Yunpan, etc. - they practically perform the same thing, are designed the same way, utilze the same technology, but wouldn’t it be better if they joined forces made an unbelievably powerful new thing?

It happens with almost everything nowadays, from 90’s watches to ‘new high tech smartwatches’, with web dynamic content versus pre-generated static content, with object oriented versus procedural programming. procedural programming. People don’t think about improving before implementing new stuff.

Conclusion

In my humble opinion, it’s all about knowledge; and learning from the past. This is an exercise that we must incorporate to our lives. Always ask yourself if you are reinventing the wheel before doing something. Conduct research on existing things before attempting your own and always try to get what is already available and try to make it “harder, better, faster, stronger”.

That is why I love open-source.

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Rafael Lopes (?)

Tech-lover, also loves photography and curiosity. AWS Cloud Ninja. What I enjoy? Learn from unknown internet blogs like this one.