That was the day on which US comic detective character Dick Tracy appeared sporting a watch that had a two-way radio built-in. This was years before the invention of the transistor radio.
While writers of thrillers and spy novels were stretching credulity with their gadgets, scientists and inventors in their white coats and hidden laboratories were actually making these innovations come to life.
Gadgets abound now, and the latest talk is of a watch that has an in-built cellphone, a vast improvement on the fictional Tracy device. Apple is said to be talking of an iWatch, and Samsung has talked of a similar device. But while we wait for these marvels to come through, let us look at a few wearable devices that are already in the market - not counting the iPod Nano that people have been wearing for some time now, using third-party straps!
(Price: $150/Rs 9,000)
The rage among geeks right now, the Pebble always seems to be on pre-order/back order. It is a customisable watch, with digital/analog screen appearance, and connects to your Android phone or iPhone via Bluetooth. You can feel incoming calls when your hands are occupied, and even read your text messages on the screen. It lets you control your cell phone music, and also has a vibrating alarm.
Connect Pebble to notifications using IFTTT (If This Then That, an app that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement through websites) and it will send you alerts, update weather, and even lets you write apps yourself. It runs a full week on a single charge.
The Z Band
The website claims that the Z Band is the world’s first silent vibrating alarm wristband. It is a cool device that comprises of an alarm module and a silicone wrist strap, both of which are available in several colours. The company ships its product worldwide (it takes about four weeks to reach India), but the website does not let you select the colour - you will need to mail the company separately for that.
The module connects to your Windows or Android phone via Bluetooth, and you set up the alarm through the app. You can select the time, the duration and the intensity of the vibration. You can even set up a reminder alarm, though you would need to look at your phone to see what the reminder is about. A great device if all you need is gentle reminders. It is very basic and delivers on what it is designed for. On a 30-minute charge, the Z Band runs for 10 days.
Sony Smart Watch
Price: Rs 7,900)
The Sony Smart Watch is available in India. It connects to your Android phone via Bluetooth, and lets you read your mail, messages, and even see social media updates. It has a multi-colour display unlike the others here. The device does have several bugs, but Sony is in the process of releasing an updated device. This is the only cool watch device available off the shelf. It comes with black and white wrist bands, and due to the colour screen, needs to be charged every other day.
Price: $159/Rs 9,540)
All these devices are smart, but Lark Pro is smarter. It not only wakes you up with an alarm, it is a wear-while-you-sleep device that monitors your sleep patterns, analyses them and suggests sleep schedules to help you wake up fresher. The alarm also goes off when your sleep is at the lightest, and it vibrates gently to wake you up — perfect for people with a sleep disorder.
The Lark Pro uses a comfortable, breathable band and comes with an app that does a 7-day sleep assessment at a time. It tracks millions of micro movements and updates data wirelessly on your phone. Really smart.
Cookoo Bluetooth 4.0
Price: $129.99/ Rs 7,800)
All the previous devices look digital. What if you want something that looks like a regular analog watch? The Pebble can do it with its interface, but if you really want a watch face with moving hands, the Cookoo is your device. Designed specifically to work with the iPhone and the iPad, it shows you alerts for incoming calls, missed calls, calendar reminders, Twitter mentions, Facebook messages and posts all, using icons.
You need to check the phone to see the alerts, but for just reminders, the watch is enough. The Cookoo runs on a standard button cell; no charging needed. One handy feature is that if you leave your phone behind, it vibrates to remind you. It comes in five colours, plus a limited edition green one that costs $249.99 (Rs 15,000). It is available online.