No matter how you slice it
Future scientists digging through the rubble left by our current society likely will point to 1928 as the year when things started to go terribly, terribly wrong for mankind. Why? It was the year that prepackaged sliced bread was first marketed, ushering in the practice of using technology to improve things that don’t need improvement.
What was so wrong with having to slice your own bread, I wonder? Was there some kind of caste system based on the thickness of a slice? Did prospective brides, husband-hunting along Atlantic City’s Boardwalk, peek from beneath parasols and titter, “Oh! What a large sandwich you have!”
Or was sliced bread invented for humanitarian reasons? Did the ready availability of uniform sandwich slabs end the horrific PB&J Wars of 1927? No. It just made it quicker for people to throw together lunch. To eat on the run. To multitask. And, almost 100 years later, to have the smartwatch.
It was with tongue firmly planted in cheek some months ago that I offered for sale in this column what I called “Chronos!, the stylish, lightweight, portable wrist-mounted time-telling device.” It seemed to me that, instead of digging through your pants, knapsack, fanny pack or purse to find a cell phone to tell what time it is, you could mount a time-telling device on your wrist. Only the fact that someone told me about something called a “wristwatch” stopped me from launching the Chronos! website.
But some people, unhappy with being able to tell only the time by looking at their wrist, want to push things a bit further. They want to do everything they can do on a cell phone without having to actually touch one. Let me see who’s texting, who’s calling, without wasting precious time grabbing my phone. Help me end the sheer terror of being out of touch for even one second.
Ever accommodating, Sony is marketing its Android-compatible SmartWatch with the following logic:
“Think of the noisiest places, the quietest places and the busiest places you have been. How many times have you missed an important call, message or other notification because you didn’t hear the tone or it wasn’t suitable to be checking your phone? A lot. With a Sony SmartWatch on your wrist, you miss nothing. Your social network, your colleagues, family and friends know they can reach you because you miss nothing. Your phone can be in your bag or pocket or anywhere within 10 meters. Like a mini version of your smartphone, SmartWatch reflects what is happening in your world and lets you know.”
Perhaps if it’s really smart, SmartWatch will warn you if you’re about to walk into a pole while staring at your wrist.
I suppose that if you are of a certain age, or a mover and shaker, or simply can’t stop “checking in” on Facebook long enough to eat the meal you’re just taken a picture of and posted, you’ll think that Sony’s or some other manufacturer’s smartwatch is a must-have. Of course, because you’ll be so busy texting, taking pictures and checking Facebook on your smartwatch, you still won’t have a clue what time it is.
I’ll leave my wrists naked, as God intended. But if scientists want to invent things that are really useful, I have a wish list.
1. An app to prevent people from texting while driving, or walking, or riding a bike.
2. A jammer that will prevent a U.S. senator from playing video poker while he’s supposed to be debating the use of deadly force.
3. A camera that will let you see ahead 50 years to prove how ridiculous that tattoo will look when you’re 70.
4. A vaccine that will eliminate every man, woman and child’s desire to know anything at all about the Kardashians.
5. The Illudium Q-96 Explosive Space Modulator.
Technology’s great, but every once in a while, use the brain that was included as a free prize in that Crackerjack-box skull of yours to see that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Otherwise, SmartBread will be on the shelves by Christmas.