In our regular ‘Then & Now’ series, we take a look at different technological devices as they’ve evolved over the years.
When the Egyptians first created a time measuring device, I doubt they ever thought it would evolve into something that could send you messages, count your steps, recommend dinner options and monitor your heart-rate whilst you sleep. But alas, as the possibilities of technology continue to prove endless, the watch has gone from our most trusted time-teller to our most trust time and everything else-teller in the form of the smartwatch.
Invented in Babylon by the ancient Egyptians, the sundial is regarded as the first device that was used to measure time. Centuries past and when the industrial revolution hit, the first ‘watch’ was created by Peter Henlein in 1510.
The next phase for time telling came in 1675 when Robert Hooke and Christiaan Huygens simultaneously created the wristwatch. At first it was mainly seen as women’s jewellery but came into demand after soldiers made it popular during WW1.
The first quartz watch to be powered by a battery came about in the 20th Century and most people thought that would be the end of the ‘watch evolution’. That is until the idea of wearable tech came to be.
The Smartwatch: The fourth revolution of time?
The first company to start experimenting with wearable tech was Japan-based Seiko who launched a TV watch in 1982. The device was definitely more of a TV for your wrist than a watch so it didn’t really take off. Not to mention the fact that for it to work, the watch had to be connected by a plug on top and a wire that ran to a radio receiver the size of a Walkman that you carried in your pocket. You also had to have headphones connected to the receiver so you could actually hear the broadcasts. Fun fact about the TV Watch, it did have a starring role in the James Bond film Octopussy in 1983.
Whilst not exactly the kind of minimalist smartwatch we’re used to now, the Seiko device did inspire a new generation of watches including Nippon Telegraph’s Wristomo, Microsoft’s Timex Datalink and MessageWatch, also from Seiko.
By the time Apple launched it’s first range of watches, the idea of wearable tech was waning. Were they an example of great innovation or just something for tech geeks?
Released in April 2015, the Apple watch entered quite a busy market with twelve other electronic services also offering smartwatches, including Samsung, Sony and Qualcomm – who all launched devices in 2013.
Fast forward four years and what was thought to be a passing trend has instead become quite popular with Techradar rating the top three smartwatches for 2019 as:
- Samsung’s Galaxy Watch
- Apple’s Watch 4
- Fossil’s Sport 4
All three watches are aesthetically pleasing, gone are the days of the chunky geek accessory. The Samsung Galaxy Watch takes the top spot. With it’s incredible 4-day battery life, the watch’s interface is also seen as one of the easiest to navigate out of the latest smartwatches.
Apple’s 4 comes with a much bigger display. It’s still lightweight with most people impressed with it’s ECG feature within the heart rate tracker. This feature can test your heart to see if you’re at a high risk of suffering from a heart condition.
Fossil has come along way in the wearable tech space with it’s impressive Sport 4 offering. While it doesn’t offer anything really unique (apart from being cheaper than the Galaxy and Apple watch) Techradar suggests it’s overall offering might just be best for you, especially if you’re looking for a fitness watch that doesn’t look weird on your wrist.
For those who aren’t sold on the tech-savy smartwatch, there has been a lot of interest in the hybrid smartwatch. These watches include some tech (sleep monitoring and step tracking) but still look like the traditional wristwatch. Right now the top hybrid smartwatch is the Misfit Phase.
From the ancient sundial to the constantly evolving range of smartwatches we have now, there’s no arguing that telling time is an essential part of our lives. The fourth revolution of time has meant we can now makes calls, order our dinner, monitor our heart rates and tell the time just by glancing down at our wrists. How long this trend will last remains to be seen.
Where does the smartwatch go from here? Let us know in the comments below!