The world has become gadget-obsessed. It feels like the worlds of James Bond, “The Jetsons” and “Star Trek,” among other shows, have all come true and converged into the one we're living in today.
How fun it is, although at times keeping up with it all can make me feel tired, financially stretched or on information overload: To use a recent cliche I've heard, we may have trouble finding enough mental bandwidth to process everything that our technology is capable of doing.
But generally, I've always loved the gadget-inspired, futuristic shows, so it's fun to see the devices of our imagination play out in real life.
Last week, Samsung announced a new smart watch — the Samsung Galaxy Gear, a $299 watch that comes out this month and pairs with certain Samsung smartphones and tablets for now, like the Galaxy Note 3 or Galaxy Tab 10.1, to make it work. It has a touch screen and a camera embedded on the strap and it will support apps like Facebook and others under development. It lets you take incoming calls and check email without having to touch the connected smartphone. Some people are calling the Gear a true “Dick Tracy” watch, to reference the comic strip that stars a police detective and his techy watch that started in 1931 and still runs today.
Already on the market is the independent and popular Pebble Watch, available for $150 at getpebble.com and at Best Buy, among other retailers. According to The Associated Press, Sony has one called a SmartWatch, which got an update last week, and Qualcomm has announced another smart watch as well. Apple may also announce its own version of the smart watch at an event this week.
Smart watches aren't the only futuristic tech things we're seeing this year. I've been writing about Google Glass, the smart device that, like the Gear watch, pairs with your smartphone but you wear it like a pair of eyeglasses instead of on your wrist.
Here are a few more that fascinate me:
• General Electric recently sent me some information about their GE Brillion connected appliances that let users operate them via applications on their mobile phones. With an oven, for example, users can preheat it, set the timer, change the temperature and check cooking status over their phones, while in another room, using the free companion GE Brillion iPhone or Android apps. Find out more at http://www.geappliances.com/connected-home-smart-appliances.
• The Myo armband from Thalmic Labs, currently available for preorder for $149 at https://www.thalmic.com/en/myo, with an expected ship date of early next year, is an armband that lets you control other devices wirelessly with your muscles and arm movements. You'll be able to operate your computer, phone and other technologies with flicks, snaps, sweeping motions, etc.
• In a similar way, the LeapMotion controller (https://www.leapmotion.com) is a small black box that sits in front of your computer that lets you control your computer the same way. It's available now for about $80.
• Other popular devices right now let you track your fitness and diet — the Jawbone UP, Fitbit Flex and Nike FuelBand are all examples of this.
There are certainly more innovations flooding the market, and it's going to take awhile for the market to sort out which ones stick around and draw the interest of developers and consumers and which ones don't. They become more useful as more apps are designed to work with them, so if developers shun them, you might want to as well, for now.