Sometimes, technology that's intended to streamline our lives actually doesn't work as intended. Take, for example, the options for Bluetooth watches. These wristwatches function pretty much like normal watches -- stopwatch, timer, alarms -- but also pair to smartphones to alert users of new calls or messages, just in case the phone isn't within arm's reach 24/7. But by pairing the two gadgets, making the phone slightly more convenient has the effect of making the watch considerably less convenient. Bluetooth, put simply, is an energy sapper -- when two devices are paired, they're communicating constantly, even if there's no tangible evidence (like active downloads) on either end. In other words, if your watch is scanning your phone for new data, both batteries are draining even if you're not receiving any calls or messages. So while most people expect watches to chug away for a couple years without maintenance, Bluetooth-enabled watches require regular recharging in much the same manner and schedule as a smartphone.
In January of 2011, Casio announced a new G-Shock watch enabled with BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology, which uses a fraction of the energy to do the same thing. This Casio even runs on a regular watch battery and has a standard two-year battery life. (The caveat is that BLE is dependent on Bluetooth 4.0, so this watch may not be compatible with older smartphones.) The G-Shock brand, complete with its chunky style and durable construction, is all the better to reinforce the idea that a phone/watch Bluetooth pairing need not be a delicate combination.
Like its competitors, the Bluetooth G-Shock pairs to a smartphone and displays the phone's incoming data. The time, date and any previously set alarms on the phone sync automatically to the watch, and the phone's ringer can also be controlled through the watch. If the phone is lost somewhere in Bluetooth's range (about 30 feet), a command on the watch can make the phone ring so it's easily found.
Nearly a year after the G-Shock Bluetooth was announced, it wasn't yet listed amongst its G-Shock peers on Casio's website, but that hasn't stifled the lust of gadget bloggers. When it does become available, Casio expects developers to collaborate on a range of applications to increase its functionality, such as fitness trackers and stock tickers. You know, just like the smartphone that you'll now have to pull out of your pocket a little less often.
On the next page, we'll discuss a new alternative to complicated, high-investment home audio systems.