Emily Tan
May 23, 2014

ROAD TEST: Smartwatches a work in progress

Our resident supergeek reports on life with the Pebble.

ROAD TEST: Smartwatches a work in progress

The Dick Tracy-Inspector Gadget fan in me has always hankered after a smart­watch, despite friends and colleagues assuring me of its derpy-ness. Their cries of “why would you want to wear one,” escalated when I won a Pebble off Mashable at the Adobe Marketing Summit in March.

Nevertheless, my inner-geek rejoiced as I strapped the clunky piece of black plastic to my wrist.

Why are smart­watches so polarising? Perhaps because timepieces have become a personal style statement. Plus, no one’s convinced by Samsung’s promise a smartwatch totally helps you pick up chicks . Still, 1,400 have been sold in Singapore in the first two months of the year, according to GfK, which makes you think.

Although chunky looking, it is light and surprisingly comfortable. It uses e-paper, which saves on battery life. It’s waterproof and syncing it up with my iPhone was seamless.

It does have drawbacks, however. It doesn’t function unpaired from a smart­phone, so you can’t use it as a portable mp3 player, or even as an independent fitness monitor.

But the entire point of a smartwatch, besides telling you the time, is notifications and the Pebble excels at this. Text messages and e-mails are surprisingly readable and you can screen incoming calls. Where this fits advertising-wise, is in combination with location-based notification features such as iBeacon, which ensures you never miss an offer because the phone was languishing in a pocket or handbag.

There is also potential in using it as part of a loyalty programme. One of the few apps designed for this (not available outside the US) is Pebblebucks, which links to your Star­bucks membership to auto-generate a scannable barcode that lets you pay for your coffee — once you convince the barista to scan your wrist — meaning you never have to fumble for a loyalty card.

But until a smartwatch comes along that is both beautiful, functional and well... cool, it’s not going to be a viable advertising platform. Unless, of course, you are targeting geeky trend-setters and Singaporeans. Or me. I’m going to keep wearing mine.


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