The smartwatches are coming, it must be gadget-overload o’clock

So Samsung beat Apple to the punch — or the wrist. Well, it depends on whether people will buy the Galaxy Gear, the latest gadget Samsung’s selling. And everyone and their mother is making Internet-connected timepieces. Will picking up your mobile phone to check the time become passé?

The Galaxy Gear, which was launched Wednesday, is being called by some as a device in “search of a purpose.” We have no crystal ball, but the naysayers and skeptics could be wrong, people might start wearing watches again if it means they can read their emails and check out Twitter and Facebook with a flick of their wrists instead of having to go to all the trouble of taking out one’s phone, turning it on, then looking at the time or doing the aforementioned “tasks.” Life is hard enough already, right?

Besides the possible boon to manufacturers, accessory makers, designers and possibly Samsung and Apple and Sony and Qualcomm — which also unveiled the Toq Wednesday — the rise of smartwatches could hasten the demise of personal human interaction.

Back in the day, people had the common courtesy to avoid checking the time during face-to-face conversations. It was only polite. But it all went downhill from there, thanks to technological advances. There was the 3-way trauma of being left on hold for eternity while someone you were talking with on the phone clicked over to the other line. Then people stepping away for a moment or three to answer a phone call. (Remember voice calls?)

Now, some of us go out with friends who will look up only long enough from their iPhones or Androids to talk with us, or at least to take a bite of their lunch. (See our recent post about phone zombies, inspired by the viral video about phone zombies.) When those friends get a hold of a smartwatch, it could well be impossible to get their attention — you can put away a phone, but wearable computing, not really. Or, can you imagine a friend wearing a smartwatch and Google Glass? It’d be over — time to go shopping for new friends.


Photo:  A visitor tries out the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch at the Samsung stand at the IFA 2013 consumer electronics trade fair today in Berlin.  (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


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