Considering An Apple Watch? Try This First - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Life
Commentary
7/1/2015
08:06 AM
100%
0%

Considering An Apple Watch? Try This First

Will a small, wrist-mounted device lead to an Apple Watch -- or to a wrist with no watch at all?

10 iPhone, Android Apps To Keep You Healthy
10 iPhone, Android Apps To Keep You Healthy
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Perhaps you've heard of the Apple Watch. Depending on who you listen to, it's either the device that's going to change computing as we know it or the next great failure in the long history of technology failures. I decided to see which camp would welcome me by taking a small, skinny step on the road to the Apple Watch.

My skinny step came courtesy of the Oregon Scientific Ssmart Dynamo 2+ -- a $99 intelligent "fitness band" with additional features that make it a useful test for my interest in strapping an Apple Watch to my wrist. The additional features are straightforward, but I'm beginning to be convinced that the arguments for and against the Apple Watch could be straightforward, as well.

So what does the Ssmart Dynamo 2+ do? It starts out with the basic fitness band functions -- keeping track of how many steps I take, how much of the day I'm active, how much of the day I'm a slug, how much I'm sleeping, and so on. So far, so good, but I have a Timex Ironman that does all of this and a bit more. The Dynamo 2+ really starts to show its smarts when it connects to the app on my smartphone.

Oregon Scientific's Ssmart Dynamo+ is a step toward the smart watch.

(Image: Curtis Franklin, Jr., for InformationWeek)

Oregon Scientific's Ssmart Dynamo+ is a step toward the smart watch.

(Image: Curtis Franklin, Jr., for InformationWeek)

The Ssmart Dynamo app connects to the wrist device and records all the data in a form that lets you review your activity, compare one day to another, and share the data with others (say, a coach or a healthcare professional). That connection goes both ways, though, and that's when it gets interesting.

When the phone and device are connected (via Bluetooth), a variety of alerts from the phone will show up on the band. When new texts or calls come in the band vibrates. It vibrates when email comes in (if you've set your email to alert you when new messages arrive), when a new message comes in via social media, or when an app (such as a news app) sounds an alert. There's a small display on the device where the first characters of the alert scroll across. And that's it.

There's no real interaction with the phone via the wrist device: It's a read-only display for the phone. And I've been surprised to find that this secondary display has become absolutely addictive.

[Apple Watch is getting new apps. Read Apple Watch Gets Email, IT Support.]

I have a fairly large smartphone (an iPhone 6+), which lives in one or another of my pants pockets most of the time. When I'm driving or in a public place, I've found it very helpful to have my wrist buzz so I can quickly look at the band and decide whether or not I need to deal with what's just happened on my phone. Even when a phone call comes in, the little Dynamo 2+ shows me who's calling, allowing me to decide whether to reach into my pocket to grab the phone or simply let the call go to voicemail.

It only took about three days for me to start depending on the Dynamo+ to let me know what was happening on my phone's main screen. And that's why I think the Apple Watch might have a great deal going for it. I can easily imagine enterprise applications with a fixed set of user responses that display on the Apple Watch and allow the user to send a canned command in response. I'm actually looking forward to seeing more information from more apps displayed on my wrist.

Now, is this a perfect solution? No, it's not. Those of us coming to the Apple Watch from fitness watches will need to get used to the fact that the more advanced devices are more delicate. The Ssmart Dynamo+ regularly admonished me to stop sweating so much and dry off the device -- an annoyance when I'm in the middle of exercise and a warning of disaster in water sports. The more activity that comes through on your phone, the faster the battery spirals toward zero.

Even with the cautions, the Dynamo+ is a very useful little device that left me wanting a bit more. It's that "bit more" that probably comes wrapped in an Apple Watch wrapper. I'm looking forward to reporting on the combination -- eventually. I'll just let the Ssmart Dynamo+ hang out on my wrist for a few more months -- if it can stand my sweaty arm.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/3/2015 | 3:24:40 PM
Re: Steps towards the Apple Watch
Li Tan, are you going to get one? -Susan
Li Tan
50%
50%
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
7/3/2015 | 10:46:33 AM
Re: Steps towards the Apple Watch
I would still prefer a smart watch. But current iWatch is still at least few miles away from perfect. I am looking forward to its successor this year.
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2015 | 2:01:51 PM
Re: Steps towards the Apple Watch
Curt, it's now better to wait for the new one released later this year. -Susan
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2015 | 11:30:17 PM
No sweat, huh?
A fitness device that warns you not to sweat??!!! YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! Earth to consumers - if you're not sweating, you're not exercising! Forget about "fitness" applications. Twenty minutes a day, four times a week, jogging or on a cardio machine as you prefer. If you want to buy a toy, then buy a toy, but an hour and twenty minutes of moderately hard work each week will change your life.
Curt Franklin
50%
50%
Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/1/2015 | 11:20:45 PM
Re: Steps towards the Apple Watch
@mak63, that's exactly right. When the battery gets low you get a little buzz and display annunciation from the "core" (the part of the watch that slips in and out of the band and contains all the smart bits) but the device might actually be a little too polite: I let mine run to zero one time and found getting it to re-associate with the phone to be a bit of a pain. All in all, though, I don't have to recharge it so often that it's an issue.
Curt Franklin
50%
50%
Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/1/2015 | 11:17:13 PM
Re: Steps towards the Apple Watch
@larry, sorry about that: It's a rechargeable battery. The charging dock takes power from pretty much any USB charging bricklet. 
zerox203
100%
0%
zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2015 | 10:01:17 PM
Re: Considering An Apple Watch? Try This First
The big stinker to me when it comes to smartwatches is quite simply the price - that is, considering they're connecting to your phone for so much of their functionality. How can I spend $400 (admittedly, non-apple products lean towards more reasonable prices, but we're still wading into multi-hundred dollar territory) on something that depends on another $400 device to function? The value doesn't add up for me . At $100, though, something like the Ssmart Dynamo 2+ seems much more manageable. I suppose it should be noted that the Oregon Scientific website lists the $99 price as a sale, though there's no mention of how long that's good for - the full price is still not bad at $129.99.

"There's a small display on the device where the first characters of the alert scroll across. And that's it."... how long is 'the first few characters?' If you wait a bit, will more text scroll by? Obviously, it's a case where you get what you pay for in terms of features, but I assumed the Ssmart Dynamo 2+ could at least display whole SMS messages - the list of features on their store seems content to give that impression. The store page also mentions that the watch has a '7 day memory', but I assume the app has an indefinite one via your phone? So, as long as you sync the phone up with the app at least once a week, you're good to go? That seems like it could come in handy for those that want to take it to exercise or even on a weekend trip, and leave their phone at home. Seems like a nice product all around.
larryloeb
100%
0%
larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
7/1/2015 | 5:57:17 PM
Re: Steps towards the Apple Watch
Thanks for the information,
mak63
100%
0%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2015 | 5:44:36 PM
Re: Steps towards the Apple Watch
@larryloeb The manual of the Dynamo 2/Dynamo 2+ says:
When the smart core is fully charged, it lasts about 5-7 days. The operation time varies depend on actual usage.
If I'm not mistaken the batteries are Li-ion 00, and they're rechargeable thru USB or some other power source.
larryloeb
100%
0%
larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
7/1/2015 | 3:49:56 PM
Re: Steps towards the Apple Watch
I didn't find this in the article or at the store so I will ask you.

What kind of battery? Hearing aid or recharageable or what?
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
News
Think Like a Chief Innovation Officer and Get Work Done
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/13/2020
Slideshows
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
News
Northwestern Mutual CIO: Riding Out the Pandemic
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/7/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
Video
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
Slideshows
Flash Poll