O'BRIEN: Get ready for the next big thing in communications -- the smartwatch

Posted: Feb. 14, 2014 6:08 pm Updated: May. 10, 2014 1:15 am

There was something cool about being able to talk to someone through your watch 30 years ago. Michael Knight used to communicate with KITT on "Knight Rider" by talking into something on his wrist. 

The David Hasselhoff character was far from the first person to use a wrist watch as a communications device. Folks from Dick Tracy to Maxwell Smart to George Jetson to Capt. James T. Kirk with the starship USS Enterprise used communications devices on their wrist.

Heck, even the kids on the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" stayed in touch thanks to special wrist communicators. Of course, all of this was fiction. That fiction has turned into reality as smartwatches are now a very real thing.

If you really feel the need to speak to people by using your watch, you can. There are several devices on the market now that can make you feel like the red Power Ranger if you really want. These smartwatches hook up to your smartphone through the use of Bluetooth technology. These watches look cool enough.

In addition to doing what a watch has always done and tell you the time, the watches can do a lot of other different things. It can display incoming text messages and display them on your wrist. The watch can vibrate to let you know that you have an incoming call. It can alert to you email, updates on social media and pretty much anything else you think you need to know about.

You can use a GPS function on the watch to give you directions to where you're going, and there are plenty of apps for the watches.

Of course, it's not cheap to look like Agent 89 either. Prices for the watches range between $425 on the high end to $200 for a Sony model, all the way down to the highest-rated model, the Pebble, which goes for around $150.

For an extra $100, you can splurge for the Pebble Steel, which has called the best smartwatch on the market. Yahoo likes the Pebble because it has so many free apps that can be downloaded for use on the watch.

While I can't say that I've seen any people talking into their watches around here, it's only a matter of time until smartwatches infiltrate the area. According to, global smartwatch shipments reached 1.9 million units in 2013. The devices are being used most often in the U.S., United Kingdom and South Korea, according to research done by Strategy Analytics.

The smartwatch market is expected to take off in the coming years. Research firm Canalys expects smartwatch shipments to reach 8 million by the end of the year. The number is expected to grow to 23 million by the end of 2015 and to more than 45 million by 2017.

It's hard to imagine wearing a watch just so that you can get emails and post to social media. Then again, if you had told me in 2004 that nearly everyone would be carrying cellphones and that most of those phones would be mini computers capable of surfing the Internet, taking photos and video, I would have said you were crazy.

While a smartwatch may not be for me right now, there's no telling what the future holds. After all, who didn't want to be Capt. Kirk?


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