/ Technology

Wearable tech has a future (whether you like it or not)

Sony Core

Last September I asked Which? Conversation readers a simple question: what’s the most you would pay for a smartwatch? The response was even less than ‘not very much’…

The overwhelming response to our smartwatch poll (some 62% of the vote) was ‘I wouldn’t have one even if it was free’. It was a response that certainly surprised me, but then I suppose a great many of the smartphone-owning public might have questioned why they’d ever need a mobile that could receive emails. How times change.

Now, I’m not saying that smartwatches themselves will become as essential as a smartphone to everyday life, but there’s a good chance that some kind of wearable tech will.

The Core of the problem

LifelogI was recently lucky enough to attend Mobile World Congress 2014, where the great and the good of mobile tech was on show. Most enticing to my eye was the Sony Core (pictured above) – a so-called life-logging device that tracks your every step, measures your heart rate and then calculates burnt calories.

The Core doesn’t stop there, however, as it also maps your coordinates 24/7 to Google Maps, tracks exactly where and when you take a photo or receive a message and even monitors your sleep pattern.

The idea is that users will soon have a complete record of their lives, and will be able to relive specific days (a birthday or wedding perhaps) at just the push of a button.

You might recoil in horror at such a Big Brother approach, but I’m genuinely intrigued to try it out once the Sony Core releases at the end of March. And at around £100 it won’t break the bank either. After all, why not wear a tiny device that’s not only able to record your best days, but also serves as a means to keep on top of your fitness regime?

Am I the only one who’s looking at the future of wearable tech with a tinge of excitement? Surely there are others out there able to join me in looking forward to a future where such tiny devices can help us to keep track of the bigger things in life?


In the interests of security and the detection of crime it looks like carrying a Core device should be made compulsory. Transponders concealed in every geographical micro-cell would be able to emit an alert signal if anyone passed it who was not wearing one or if it was deactivated. Concert promoters could verify that all the attendees were bona fide ticket holders. Tesco Clubcard points could no longer be spent if their owner was somewhere else. The continuously updated biometric data could make passports [and the scams that hang on them] redundant. Sounds like the answer to Which?’s prayers. . . .or maybe not.

I’m not sure this really helps with the “bigger things in life”. I can manage very well without constantly being available on email or phone, so I shall not find it a necessity to track my every move, and have another device to cause me to worry about my diet, health or fitness (assuming it has the capability of doing any of those things competently). However, manufacturers are always looking at producing expensive adult toys and novelties to solve problems you never knew were problems, and at £100 it could make a family birthday present when you have no other more sensible ideas? If we spent more time working hard instead of monitoring our personal elerctronic devices we might get out of these times of austerity a bit quicker. An anti-cynical device should be on my list, I suppose.

Android Wear looks very promising: http://youtu.be/0xQ3y902DEQ

I feel underwhelmed by the publicity material for these gadgets. They don’t exactly excite with ground-breaking new features. Made for dummies I suppose.

I think Mike is going to have an uphill battle trying to get the regulars on Which? Conversation to embrace the technology of the 21st century, but it’s nice to see some topics coming up here as well as on Which? Tech Daily.

Perhaps smartwatches are a good introduction to wearable technology. Few objected to the wristwatch and that evolved to show the date and day, then alarms were added, and so on. The beauty of a computer, tablet or smartphone is that we can use them for all sorts of different things to suit our lifestyle, and ignore whatever we see as pointless or trivial.

It is important that any wearable tech is waterproof, sufficiently robust to survive, and we overcome the problem of pathetic battery life. I’ll have a smartwatch that provides an up to date weather forecast and helps me to get from A to B without getting lost when walking.

But – like Malcolm – I don’t like being contactable at all times of the day.

Wearable tech? Do me a favour, I don’t even have a mobile ‘phone… 😀

Jerihattrick says:
22 March 2014

Good on ya. I still use a Smiths demobbed wind up watch, circa 1968, which has never let me down and is accurate enough for my requirements.

I see potential for Google Glass , the technology is at the stage of providing a usable item just needs acceptance by a a larger segment of the public.
Of course there are those who see no need for such technology- thats fine, just let those who are interested or tempted get on with using this leading edge technology.
But look at how mobile phones and then Smartphones are in such widespread use by a wide spectrum of the population.
Really wish my ageing eyesight was better !

Joe says:
21 March 2014

I sometimes wish Which would employ their researchers a bit near the average age of the Which reader, late 40’s, 50’s? As you can see 62% of us have no interest whatsover in the latest techno gimmick that in reality does nothing to enhance your life whatsoever. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. Maybe it does add something exciting to the life of someone in their 20’s and 30’s. However anything that records, tracks, reports, monitors my every movement fills me with horror.
Maybe some kind of wearable technology will become essential in your everyday life but it will not in mine. And for the record neither are smartphones essential to me either.

What makes it smart, nothing I can see.
Just another device or devices that are advertised to seem essential, to continue growth in the gadget sector.
This time I don’t agree it’s progress, just gadgetry.
Some More Advertisers Revenue Trick.

Andrew Matthews says:
21 March 2014

Dear Mike Plant,
Hopefully you are the only person looking forward to wearing a Sony Core with a tinge of excitement.
Leaves me cold.

I can guarantee my hi-tech minded son will add this to his next ‘must have’ list so you are not entirely alone Mike.

Personally I wouldn’t know what to do with it!

Such innovative technology gets my vote if it focuses on medical advancement but otherwise it just represents another big boys toy.

Marie says:
21 March 2014

Give me a £100 and I will have one !!!

I can’t wait for electronic specs.

I read about them with some interest a couple of years ago. A mark 1 was released that had a few problems, and while I was waiting for the mark 2, the company went bust. Such a shame.
They were sold in the UK for a very short time – double the price than if you bought them in the USA!

There are some John Lennon style ones around but they don’t quite have the same appeal.

Remember when they were going to incorporate web browsers into the front of microwave ovens? We asked, “Why?”

The patent records are full of nutty ideas like combined vacuum cleaner/coffee makers, bicycles with hexagonal wheels and now wearable tech.

Will we then have to have a special wearable tech wash cycle incorporated into our washing machines?

BobC says:
24 March 2014

To Joe and others,

Well I’ve reached the ripe ‘old’ age of 67.

I’ve recently worked my way through three different smart phones before settling on a Galaxy Note 3. I also have a Fitbit that I use in conjunction with MyFitnessPal – it’s great and has helped me loose some weight and get enough exercise – as is often said – “what gets measured gets fixed”. I write to a technical blog fairly regularly and run a twitter account (3000+followers).

I absolutely detest the Windows for Seniors type of book – the’re so patronising.

Can people please accept that you can be over 60 and have a fascination with and skill in using technology!

June says:
20 April 2014

I’m with you on this, I am in my seventies now, like you have a Galaxy note 3 and also have the Galaxy gear watch, it keeps track of my exercise and how many steps I have taken, one can become a bit sedentary as one gets older, I can answer my phone using the watch, very handy if the phone is buried at the bottom of my handbag, and I do have a choice whether to answer my phone or not, and if I do not wish to be bothered with it guess what I can turn it off, ignore it, my choice.
Just because I am a certain age doesn’t mean I am dead to anything new that comes along, we all have a choice to buy or not to buy, if its useful and helps in our everyday life then why not but we do have choices,no one forces any one to buy these things. I too do not like being viewed as unable to appreciate or grasp new tech, maybe it is the older generations fault in the main for seeing themselves as dinosaurs the beige brigade, well I am alive and wont allow myself to become extinct just yet LOL

June, I don’t think it’s older people who see themselves as dinosaurs, I think it is younger people who think ageing is accompanied by a total loss of faculties. It is annoying to me that we patronise “the elderly” as all needing help to run their lives. I suspect that there are many in lower age groups who are far less capable.

I think June is right that older people often see themselves as old fashioned and out of touch with technology, and have seen ample evidence of this. On the other hand, I have not seen much evidence of the elderly being patronised by younger people.

If I have to wear a hearing aid in years to come, I hope it will give me instructions for finding my way when walking around town, perhaps with the help of a satnav map on a smartwatch.

True Malcolm, I once attended a lecture on ageing and learned that it is entirely possible for an 80 year to be as fit as an unfit 20 year old! [I will leave you to work that one out!].

To revert back to the topic, there is emerging evidence that a 25 minute a day session on an iPad [which I mostly use] has the potential to increase one’s eyesight. Research recently carried out on students resulted in their increased vision, even in those already with 20/20 vision. Something to do with increased activity of the eye muscles. I have found there is an element of truth in this as my long distance vision has definitely improved of late and am in need of an eye test to establish why I can now see better without my glasses! I wonder if anyone else has noticed this?

I should add this involves using a specific iPad app exercise but as I don’t have this it doesn’t explain the improvement in my eyesight.

Agatha says:
28 March 2014

I just want to support BobC and others like us. I am 56 and also love new technology, it’s creative, fun and useful so I for one welcome any info on what’s new and available out there!

Jane Smith says:
10 April 2014

I definitely will say no to smart meters, smart phones and smart tvs as this technology will be used for surveillance purposes. This is to control the world population and enslave people even more whilst they slyly implement Agenda21 without our consent. Big brother will be watching us. I do not want a smart meter as I do not want the Control System snooping on me and killing me with radiation. Wifi’s use the same frequency as microwave ovens and are a health risk. Zigniew Brzezinski made a statement that you can kill 1 million people quicker than you can control a1 million people.

Thank you, Jane, for alerting us to the wider implications . . . as well as for reminding us of that powerful thinker Zbigniew Brzezinski whose liftetime contribution to world affairs has never been properly appreciated or recognised.

I suppose if we succumb totally to information technology, members of the human race will lose much of their personality and individuality. It seems to be happening already. I am not generally a doomsayer, and I can see the upside of many new developments even if they don’t appeal to me, but I sometimes feel we should pause and look at the bigger picture.

That’s why I have nothing whatsoever to do with the Internet.

Tim says:
17 April 2014

If you have an interest in technology then things like smartwatches are fun. I am willing to try out certain new technologies,have the money to do it and in my case don’t mind spending some of it on such things – within limits of course. I have a Sony Smartwatch2. I’d never claim it was essential though. Then again, nothing is, apart from food and water. I don’t have a car , because I don’t think the expense of owning one is worth it in my case and I get health benefits from walking , not getting frustrated at the lack of parking etc, not to mention not polluting the planet. Personal choice. But a case exists for restricting public use of things like private cars, because of the extent of the damage they do, whereas the same can’t really be said of most technology.

I accept my points are arguable ones – I suppose I could get run over reading an email on my smartwatch while crossing the street!

Patricia says:
23 April 2014

I am 76 years old and recovering from a hip operation, there are a lot of physical restrictions associated
with the recovery period (8weeks). I have so enjoyed my I phone and I pad during this time, being able to communicate with friends and family, using the internet etc. these instruments have been a real boon, and saved me relying on outside company when on my own for long periods. yes, I look forward to the latest developments in the IT world