Cantillon: strike a pose with arm-candy technology
Smartwatches promise to overcome the effort it takes to pull a smartphone from your pocket
Pranav Mistry of Samsung America presents the new Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch in Berlin yesterday. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The tech world is going through a Dick Tracy phase, as Derek Scally describes it in today’s report from the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. While older tech fans mourn the fall from grace of the maker of the classic Nokia 6310, ever-excitable early adopters are salivating over the arrival of the latest smartwatches. These devices promise to overcome the enormous effort it takes to pull your smartphone out of your pocket.
Next week sees the latest Apple product event. The Apple rumour mills are in overdrive at the expected launch of an ‘iWatch’.
Some will show your emails, text messages and social media, some will work as quasi-cameras, and some will even operate as proxy phones.
Much of the focus among developers is on health-related apps that can be tuned to work seamlessly with the new watches. There’s already a myriad of healthbands on the market from the likes of Nike and LG.
These monitor distance travelled, heart rate and the like with varied accuracy and tie this data in with health apps on your smartphone or tablet.
More powerful devices will mean greater data accuracy and much wider possibilities in that regard. It’s a long way from the calculator phones of the 1980s.
The wider theme, it seems, involves wearable technology. Logically speaking it makes sense. How better to create a detailed profile of the user than to use something that’s often attached to their body from morning to night.
However, aside from the obvious user concerns about the data falling into the wrong hands, the increasing importance of form alongside function is likely to prove a challenge for the tech firms.
The tech arena is not one where fashion has had any notable success. Your average computer programmer is rarely confused with a fashionista. Yet in the world of wearable technology, success and failure will depend a lot more on styling, which is very subjective.
This may give the likes of Apple an edge; it has long placed aesthetics high on the agenda.
If tech firms can get the form and function right then it won’t be long before the fixation of the nation’s teenagers will move from phone to wrist.
Exchequer returns: what lies beneath
At first glance there is little to trouble the Government’s budget planning in the August Exchequer returns published on Tuesday. Tax returns may have slipped but deeper expenditure cuts mean the Government remains on track to comfortably meet its deficit target for the year of 7.4 per cent of GDP, thanks in part to
€3.6 billion gain from restructuring the IBRC promissory note and the sale of investments in Bank of Ireland.
However, it might be wise to take note of what lies beneath the slippage in tax receipts, particularly VAT and excise duties which are 3.5 per cent
(€245 million)and 4.1 per cent
(€127 million) behind target. Income tax was also behind target by 0.6 per cent which, along with the other undershoots, speaks to the fragility of the recovery and people’s reluctance to spend.