How often do you glance at your smartphone when you’re in the middle of a face-to-face conversation? Be honest. And how annoying is it when you’re chatting with someone who’ll whip out his or her iPhone the moment it buzzes? Smartphones have made routine what would once have been considered rude. Is there any way to put the digital genie back in the bottle—or the pocket, as the case may be?
Exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show, which took over the Las Vegas Convention Center January 7-10, think they might have the fix: “nonintrusive” wearable tech. Here’s a sampling of the wares:
• FashionTEQ’s Zazzi. A rectangular device with an e-paper “Z” mounted on a ring or bracelet, Zazzi allows you to connect discreetly to your phones. If you get a message or a call, the image will change, and the device will vibrate. Your attention is still drawn away from what you’re doing, but in a less obvious way.
• Autographer. This smart camera that can clip onto your jacket or hang around your neck enables you to take candid photos without ever having to point and shoot. The device is smaller than a smartphone and the amount of photo snapping can be programmed. This could make for some odd—and oddly interesting—photographs.
• Kapture. This colorful audio recording wristband continually records conversations with an omni-directional microphone. As soon as someone says something memorable, a gentle tap on the band will save the last 60 seconds on the cloud. You can then apply filters and share the audio. Kapture co-founder Mike Sarow calls it “the Instagram of audio.” But tell people that you’re recording them. Otherwise, this is one instance where it’s ruder to be unobtrusive.