I’ve had a cellular capable smartwatch since the Samsung Gear S was released way back in 2014. I’ve grown to take the technology for granted. Recently, many of my family members acquired LTE capable smartwatches and listening to their comments and seeing how the devices have altered their routines inspired me to write about the experiences.
As technology has progressed smart watches have become far more powerful. Modern models sport multi-core 64 bit processors, LTE cellular radios, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, Heart Rate sensors, Electro-cardiogram sensors, some can also take your blood-pressure and check your blood oxygen level. All of this along with a touch screen, and battery that can run for more than 24 hours are packed into a water-tight case the size of a traditional wristwatch. They are truly marvels of our age.
In my line of work, I need to be available to my employer 24/7/365. Companies depend on their technology. The people that make that technology work are expected to monitor for, and respond to, issues regardless of where they are, or what they are doing. For me and countless people like me, smart watches offer a sense of freedom that is palpable.
Before they existed, I wouldn’t be able to go for a walk or a hike without my phone. If I left the house and realized I had forgotten my phone, I would have to go back and get it no matter how far I had traveled before I discovered it missing. Now, I frequently leave the house without my mobile in my pocket. I can still get email, text messages, phone calls, review system alerts, and even check various monitoring tools (a stretch on the small screen, but I have done it).
As a young person, I used to make fun of the, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercial. Now I’m wiser, having a communication system attached to your person is a powerful safety tool. The Samsung and Apple devices are capable of detecting hard falls and notifying loved ones if you are rendered unresponsive. There’s an enormous peace of mind that comes from knowing that any of my family members can reach out and get help even if they can’t get to their phones.
Search the web and you can find countless examples of people reporting that their ECG enabled smartwatch saved their lives. When a person reports an issue to their medical professional that could be heart related, they are often asked to wear a heart monitor for number of days. The doctor is hoping to capture data about the problem the next time it occurs. When your watch contains similar sensors and your phone records its monitoring events for months or years at time, the data has probably already been captured. This can lead to a faster diagnosis or at least better targeting of further diagnostics.
The devices are the best exercise tool since the stationary bike. Over the years, developers have found ever more creative ways to use a smartwatches abilities to assist their user’s in reaching their health goals. Going for a walk or run while recording distance, pace, and cardio performance used to be something you could only do on a high-end treadmill while wearing a chest strap and face mask. Now if I sit too long, or haven’t reached my move goal, my wrist buzzes with a suggestion. When I head out, I can easily keep streaming my podcast, tunes, or even my YouTube video.
It has been fun to witness the evolution of the smartwatch from a nerd gizmo to a mainstream accessory. If you have had the standard Wi-Fi model for a while and are considering upgrading to an LTE option, I can say that I don’t personally know anyone that has regretted the decision.