On Being Distracted By Future Devices

In his recent post "Pebble Steel, Et Al.", Shawn Blanc wrote some interesting words about the announcement of the new Pebble Steel and other smart watches, and explained his disinterest in them.

After wanting these kinds of devices for a while (especially tracking devices like a FitBit or FuelBand, and also the Pebble when it was huge on Kickstarter), I realised that I wouldn't have that much of a use for them after all.

When I'm working from home I wouldn't use any of those features. When I'm at work (where I'd love to have the ability to track my movements), I'm not allowed to wear any accessories, rings, watches, bracelets, etc. due to hygienic purposes. It would be nice having some of those features when at University from time to time, but the iPhone is still a lot more convenient for any of those things.

The main point though to all of this is the distraction factor that these devices (especially the Pebble) create. Shawn describes his disinterest with smart watches in three points:

  • "For one, I don’t feel the need to be more connected to notifications (if anything, it’s the opposite). The things that the Pebble does best — such as notifying me of an incoming text message or phone call, telling me the outside temperature, etc. — don’t appeal to me."
  • "And then on the flip side, for things like the Pebbles new apps such as Yelp, why not just use the app on your phone? Is it really that much faster and easier and more convenient to use the little buttons on your watch? I could be wrong here, but if the Pebble needs a smartphone to work (the apps can’t get their data without using the connected phone’s network signal) then what is the advantage of navigating a miniature version of the app on your wrist? Perhaps it’s more polite than pulling out your phone?"
  • "And then, not to mention, the watches themselves just don’t look all that cool or attractive to me."

This is where you get distracted from the actual thing you're doing instead of having something that "helps you out" by eliminating the urge to take out your phone. Instead of concentrating on a conversation, you may keep looking at your "watch" which may be misinterpreted as boredom (and isn't that polite anyway). Instead of looking into a bigger screen, your opposite would focus even more to look into a smaller screen to check in somewhere, read a (maybe bad) review about the place you're already ordering at, or just get a notification about an email you would delete anyways after reading the subject line. "Perhaps it's more polite"? Depends on the amount of time you spend with your device.

As I tried to point out in my posts "How A Smartphone Can Ruin A Moment" and "How An iPhone Can Create A Beautiful Moment", I think that we're getting more and more distracted by the devices we take with us every day. It's not bad to take a picture of the people you hung out with or where you had that wonderful dinner, but when you're done, put the device away and focus on the moment. Instagram doesn't close at any particular time, the Emails you're usually trying to avoid are still in your mailbox, all of your notifications will still be there later.

I'm not sure where this is going and what else the future will bring us in the future, but I hope that people will still think about what's really important when spending time with someone else.