Simulation And The Apple Watch
If Beaudrillard had Dick Tracy’s watch…
Being the hopeless fanboy I am, it was an unavoidable purchase.
Elegant white packaging that is strangely heavy. I’ll have to look for built-in weights!
This is where the simulations start.
It is not a watch. It is a system on a chip (SOC) with sensors, switches, actuators and a display.
That’s not a crown on the left side, that’s a “Digital Crown”, i.e. an input device that supplements the touch screen and a button.
It is a changeling, going from a blank, black watch face to whatever you choose as a simulated timepiece as you lift your arm to look at it. That should tip everyone off that it IS a simulacrum!
From there, the simulations prevail. It can be anything there’s an app for. But at this stage in the software development circle (WatchOS 1.0.1), the watch apps are often reflections of the iPhone apps and they in turn of the real (if they’re good and relevant). A chain of references amongst all these simulations.
In the introduction, Apple executives put a lot of emphasis on the watch being an “intimate” device. Not only do you touch it’s screen, but it touches you by activating actuators on the bottom to give you taps on the wrist. They chose a strangely brutal name for these actuators: “Taptic Engine”.
Anyway, this more or less functions and is one of the Apple watches exclusive features over other smartwatches. But you’ll have to lead a sheltered life to really appreciate it. Then your girlfriend can send you her fluttering heartbeat to touch you lightly on your wrist. Light as a breeze.
On the other hand, if I use the watch as a GPS navigation device while riding my dirt bike (another Dick Tracy moment), I can’t feel a thing. It taps me on the wrist three times before I have to turn left and four times before a right-hand turn, but mostly the vibrations of the bike and the airstream predominate. Improvement suggestion, Apple: I’d need a slap on the wrist! I can take it, I am an Enduro rider!
And the Apple Watch, still in foil here, is a simulacrum of the finest order.
I’ve had it three days now and these are only first impressions. It seems as ground-braking and imperfect as the first iPhone. We didn’t know then that we needed such a thing and look at us now! We do gobble up simulations!
Tags: Apple, Beaudrillard, philosophy, postmodernism, review, simulacra, simulation, watch