The smartwatch and its countermovement

The smartwatch and its countermovement

Smartwatches promise to do more than display the time; they claim to solve our time management problems. With built-in sensors they monitor our behaviour and tell us what to do – to help us become better versions of ourselves. According to their creators, smartwatches reduce stress; a very tempting offer. Anja Neidhardt researched the history and present of designed time systems, from the bells of ancient monasteries to stateof- the-art digital applications. Her unmistakable conclusion: smartwatches do not live up to their promise. They take control and overload us with distracting alerts and digital information, creating even more confusion. On top of that, they’re actually not all that ‘smart’ and it’s not easy to master their functions. Neidhardt also found interesting countermovements. An elegant ‘shivering bracelet’ for example, that vibrates every five minutes. Or an analogue ‘activity tracker’, that shows your movements with a liquid that splits into smaller droplets. Will these alternative approaches help us to deal with time on our own terms?

Anja Neidhardt