Do you wear a smart watch?

Just curious who out there wears a smart watch and what benefits they have?

A few quotes and short readings have been popping up for me recently that have been making me think about wearable tech.

Jia Tolentino: “surveillance capitalism does to (life) what strip mining does to a mountain”

a little summary of the Panopticon and its relation to modern technology:

The folk tale of the elephant and the rope:

Maybe I’m just overthinking smart watches, but at least for now, I don’t seem to have any desire or need to have one. Maybe I’ve just read 1984 too many times?

Surveillance capitalism rules for privileged people. If you’re the type of person who has said “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about,” evaporating privacy only feels like the whole world can anticipate your desires and instantly fulfill them. It’s like the police. Police are great for keeping the nice neighborhoods quiet, and if you’re not in the ‘nice’ neighborhood, well… your experiences may vary. And the two are quickly merging with things like the Ring network. Smart watches seem to be best for supplying health/body and location data, so I can only imagine how that ties into everything else. Smartwatches have probably collected an incredible quantity of heart and sleep data from rich people.

I am not interested in wearing a smart watch full time either, but I know some people that like them. My wife found it useful when we had a newborn and we had to track of all sorts of bodily functions during all hours of the day, often while holding a baby. I have an aunt that likes the way smartwatches integrate with smartphone navigation. I have friends that love knowing how good of a sleep they had and all of those movement/heartrate/fitness metrics. Maybe it’s nice if you want to get work emails while you’re hanging out in a pool? Personally, I already subject myself to several hours of screen time a day on my phone, so I’m not sure that a teaser screen attached to my wrist will help.

That elephant story makes me think of the now-famous Kanye 2008 quote from TMZ headquarters: “When you hear about slavery for 400 years… for 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” I don’t think smart watches are the light twine keeping your gigantic, beautiful, powerful body tied to a post. The rope is more likely the threat of poverty and the credit system. The kind of stuff that would make the strongest elephant whimper.

New Apple watch looks neat. I prefer those Samsung Galaxy ones just because watches should be round-- It’s mostly jewelry after all.

I have tried to adopt tracking tech. Bike computer/power meter, heart rate monitor, pedometer, etc. We also have an online “health monitoring” “service” at work to give me a discount on health insurance.

In the end, I just don’t care about the numbers. A PR is pretty much meaningless to me. I have continuously have asked HR to show an ROI with our health monitoring service and healthcare costs. They deny me, but if there were a savings there is no doubt they would be shouting it from the rooftops. All of the individual studies I have read show monitoring works only in certain circumstances and for a limited amount of time. There is really no impact for us regular folks.

I see that as the main benefit to a smart watch. ymmv. I don’t care much for “smart” tech in general, I don’t find it smart. I’m trying to shake up any thing that tracks me because the suggestions they make from my choices are worthless. I’m hoping for something cool, but I typically get that from people, like your thread on Teenage Engineering. Never got that in a feed. Also I find flipping a switch easier than saying “Alexis, turn on the lights.” And to end it all, I hate our Nest. It is most definitely stupid.

I do. I wear a garmin Fenix 6+ running watch on the daily. I mostly wear it for running reasons (I run 6-7x a week) but also for the smart notifications (synced via my iPhone). I like just wearing one watch through all activities, at night, etc.

On the odd times I am not wearing it (it’s charging or wearing a non-smart watch for a formal affair), I miss most of the notifications and feel “naked”.

Run specific features aside (distance, pace, time, intervals, race predictor, etc.), I don’t really use any of the other “health” tracking features. I never look at HR (even in training), sleep stats, stress, steps, V02 Max, etc.

I tried an apple watch but returned it after 2 days. It was terrible. Didn’t do half of what I expected it couldn’t and half of the things it could do, it did poorly. It was useless for running. I tried it to get away from carrying my phone on runs for emergency purposes (ie. with a newborn I wanted to be able to be reached if I was out for a 2 hour run).

I really like traditional watches and wish I didn’t wear a smart watch all the time. I just don’t see me going back and changing watches 2-3x a day.


I hear you there. I’ve been thinking about algorithms, specifically how they are designed to elevate some pieces content at the expense of other pieces of content. So by definition they are biased, that is actually their intent. Partially what has gotten me back to the core77 forums. There is no algorithmic prioritization to the content.

After having worked on voice activated smart devices I don’t think I would have one in my home. This is something I noticed with the engineers I was working with on those products. We do have a nest and some connected speakers (audio only, no mics) but other than that I’m keeping things pretty disconnected. So many things want WiFi connection out of the box, TV, ceiling fans, air purifiers, but I just turn all of that off and keep them off the network.

a friend of mine who tends to have a bit more of that big brother thinking actually has a house full of smart devices and amazon speakers and doorbell and everything else and I’m always like dude, you are literally paying for big brother. But I understand the lure of convenience is strong.

I think having notifications on the wrist is the single biggest reason I don’t wear a smart watch. I really don’t want another thing pushing notifications at me. I’ve turned off almost all notifications on my phone other than phone calls and home alarm system (another piece of smart tech actually).

I think the most tempting features of a smart watch are all of the health tracking capabilities… but then I think who is keeping all that data, for how long and for what?

Do you sit in front of the computer all day long? How long do your clients expect to wait to hear back from you when they send an email? Do your friends send you a letter by post when they want to get a hold of you?

Notifications are just a quicker way to triage information and deal with it on the fly. And give yourself more time to consider an issue for a better response. Without a smart watch, you still have the same amount of content to deal with, it’s just buried in your email inbox or whatever app. You have to go to your inbox to see 50 messages you missed during the day out of the Studio and click through them all to find out which ones need attention, while I’ve already seen them come in and know there’s only 1 or 2 to do something about and I’ve been thinking of the reply for the last hour what to do about it.

I only enable the notifications I want and when I want them.

I find I’m actually much more free as I can be away from my desk as needed or go for a 2 hour run and not worry I’m missing something.

Everything is shut off at bedtime.

As for tracking, Im happy to be tracked. I’d rather get ads in my IG feed that are relevant than watch a totally random commercial on broadcast TV. We are doing a home reno and the number of times I’ve seen something useful in an ad has been many. I welcome the Minority Report personalized tracking ads.

As for health, I’d likewise be happy to have more health integration. In training, I track calories, weight and run data. If I could more finely tune my diet, recovery and workouts for better performance by tracking more data I would. If my doctor or insurance company could have access to that I could get better treatment compared to someone who sits around all day, why not?


Damnit I really wanted to get an Apple Watch this year, and you all have me paranoid. I just don’t want to drag my phone on my bike rides, but still need a form of communication… What do I do?

Some good points. I think Michael should get two!

Damning with faint praise haha. More of a heuristic to be navigated here on C77.

I don’t wear one regularly. I have a Suunto Spartan which isn’t fully ‘smart’ - it has GPS and accelerometers and other tech but is only connected tethered or Bluetooth, there’s no OS. I wear it on hikes or bike rides or snowboarding sometimes. Heart rate measurement on wrist-mounted devices is of limited utility. The touch contact HR we use on commercial fitness equipment is supposed to actually have better readings, but that also depends on the software to reduce muscle noise. On a wrist it seems most useful in middle normal daytime ranges, but isn’t responsive enough in the higher target training areas. If I want HR data I wear a chest strap.

Who wants to wear a watch to sleep? That sounds annoying.

I’ve fully adopted the surveillance capitalism mindset since reading Shoshana Zuboff’s 2019 book (5/5 stars). Even had to let some projects go due to its insidious and pervasive nature. (once you find out how much money is made from selling personalized data profiles, there is no going back) As a result I’ll only wear my Apple Watch on the golf course to identify my distances and to access gps maps of holes. The customization and collection of watch bands is among the worst perpetrators of waste and over consumption.

It’s nice to know what time it is when you wake up in the middle of the night. A bright screen is also nice to see to go pee.


President Nixon back in the day:

I don’t currently have a smart watch. I’ve been interested for a while to use for running so that I can track the run and listen to music without having to carry a phone but not sure how I feel about having notifications on my wrist. I suppose I could just turn them all off as others have said.

I don’t need one. Would also wear out pretty quickly from sand,sun and salt water at the beach…

Really? Relevant?

Currently on the core77 homepage, the Google pop-up ad is for Creative Suite. I have that. The targeted ad is always wrong, and always something I know about. I don’t need a reminder, I’m only partially senile at this point. At least with the random ad on broadcast it stands a chance of being new to me. Most likely irrelevant, but at least new

I’m not saying I love all the targeted ads that follow me around the internet or that they are perfect. But I’d rather see an ad for the pair of shoes I just bought than an ad for feminine products. The odd time I do watch broadcast TV (streaming) it’s almost unwatchable because of the ads alone…

Likewise, I think the issue with “smart” products is not that they are wanted, or needed, usually just that they aren’t smart enough. Technology is always evolving and I happen to enjoy being an early adopter. I had the first gen iPod, iPhone, iPad, Nest, and can tell you none of them were really that great.

I remember back in 1998 or so I had an original iMac and it had a voice recognition software built in. I was so excited to use my computer like 2001 Space Odyssey HAL. I ended up yelling an over-annunciating “CLOSE WINDOW” about 20x before I gave up. But now I can’t count how many times a day I use Siri to add stuff to the grocery list or do something totally routine.

Smart watches are the same. They aren’t that smart. Period. That’s why I like my dumb smart Garmin. It gives me notifications but I can’t do anything on it. The Apple watch promised a lot and delivered very little.

As for all the tinfoil hat concerns about tracking, I’m surprised so many designers here are worried. “Evil Facebook” doesn’t care if you walk 10,000 steps a day and if you do anything digital (including posting here) you already have a footprint and are tracked.


I don’t think there is a need to resort to “tin foil hat” language.

Data privacy is a pretty mainstream concern. In my opinion this is something to be thoughtful about.

Imagine a world where every ad is somehow tailored to you. It could be more useful, but it also would be the ultimate echo chamber. For a while I subscribed to the ‘cheap’ Hulu, the one with ads. Although the ads were more targeted than broadcast TV they were still entertainment in their own right. It was like walking around a strange city, getting a general zeitgeist of a civilization. “So this is how they see us”. Also the kids were more entertained with the ads than the show, learning the jingles to Progressive Insurance etc.

Siri gets used to play songs every now and then, and send the occasional text message while driving. In her Irish accent.

The PBS Frontline episode “The Facebook Dilemma” should make anyone think twice about engaging with that company in any manner. The tendrils run so deep. Again its a shame because the Oculus Quest2 is quite good. But after my Design for VR class was completed I cancelled and deleted my Oculus account.

There’s ‘data privacy’ and there’s also ‘data ownership’. Companies that track, aggregate, and monetize this data get it for ‘free’. (Well, they have to build Google Drive and gmail and stuff, a lot of which is useful.)