Meet our writers

 







Technology February 2016

The Hippocratic Oaf

A Dick Tracy Watch Is Now for Sale at Your Local Phone Store

By Daniel Crantz

I suddenly felt a little old or perhaps more accurately somehow disconnected. But I was not going let these feelings interfere with this exciting moment as I stared at what I thought would always be impossible – a Dick Tracy watch!

Apple and Samsung are leading the pack with cool, Dick Tracy fashion watches that perform a variety of tricks. But as a piece of advice, don't mention Dick Tracy to phone store employees as they will only stare back with puzzled looks. One bright young lady asked me if Dick Tracy worked for Apple. I told her no, and then trying to connect, I remembered there was movie.

"Ever see the Dick Tracy movie with Warren Beatty?" I asked.

"Who is Warren Beatty?" she inquired.

This wasn't helping, so I responded, The movie is about a private detective named Dick Tracy played by the actor Warren Beatty. Dick Tracy had a watch that was a radio and later a TV, or video phone, you know like Skype or Facetime. "

"Never seen the movie," she said, looking a little bored. But then she remembered she was trying to sell me something so being polite, she added, “When was the movie made?"

I correctly guessed, "Not sure, around 1990, I think."

"I was born in 1990," she responded.

I suddenly felt a little old or perhaps more accurately somehow disconnected. But I was not going let these feelings interfere with this exciting moment as I stared at what I thought would always be impossible – a Dick Tracy watch!

She continued, "These watches don't have Skype ability yet as they have no camera, but they still play streaming videos, like CNN news clips or YouTube."

She had emphasized the “yet,” so I was confident that the videophone watch was only six months away, or maybe even six minutes. As technology changes so rapidly, I imagined that I could leave the store, have lunch and return to find the new video watches for sale.

She held up a watch and continued, "These watches can receive phone calls via a Bluetooth connection with your smart phone, and get email and text messages. They also have a variety of apps like the local weather, news and fitness tracking."

"What's fitness tracking?" I asked.

She stared at me, "You know, like a fitbit."

"What's a fitbit?" I asked.

She looked a little frustrated with me, but I was happy to return the favor, after all she didn't know Dick Tracy.

"You, know, a fitness tracker, it measures your heart rate and number of steps you take. The wrist fitbit looks like a watch and it's been on the market since March of 2013."

I realized this was a reference to three- year-old technology, and to be unaware of a fitbit was some type of geek sacrilege.

I almost said, sorry I have been out of the country or maybe even better, sorry I just got paroled, but why apologize to someone who knew nothing of Dick Tracy? Then a thought occurred to me. I asked, "How does something you wear on your wrist track your steps? If I walked on my hands I would understand, but shouldn't a fitbit be more like an ankle bracelet?"

She smiled and shook her head, "It works, believe me."

I was a little dubious, but I bought a watch anyway, and nearly had a traffic accident the first day. I was in my minivan and turned up my phone so I could hear it ring over the sound of talk radio. In addition to my phone I have a Bluetooth device (hands free) that hangs on my car visor. Well, I got a call and my smart phone, visor Bluetooth and my watch (set to ring AND vibrate) went off simultaneously. I thought I was under attack and was sure that a large buzzing insect had landed on my wrist. After my shrill girl-like screams subsided, I talked to my wife via my cool watch and picked up the dry cleaning as instructed – not exactly a Dick Tracy assignment, but close.

I purchased the Gear S2 watch (Samsung, $250 to $299). What sold me was the fact it's not completely Bluetooth. All other watches need to be in proximity of your smart phone to work, but not so with the Samsung Gear S2. My smart phone must be turned on, but I can leave it at home. You see, my watch has been assigned a phone number, so it's more like a call forwarding procedure I suppose. (Line charge is an additional $5 per month with Verizon) So I purchased the watch because I could leave my smart phone at home and still get calls on my watch. After all you didn't see Dick Tracy carrying a smart phone! Now where do I find a fedora and yellow overcoat?

 

Laughter is the Best Medicine, unless you’re asthmatic!

Meet Daniel