It’s odd the things that make me feel like I’m living in the future. As a kid (if I no longer am) I don’t think I thought about living in space, or having flying cars or streaming HD videos to my TV. Which is odd given my predilection for sci-fi books. I do remember the first time I played a video game (the original Space Invaders) at a fish and chip shop (when they cost 20c a turn, or about half my pocket money) it was something pretty special. The latest video game graphics still amaze me, even if I never really became a gamer, but what really makes me feel like future me is the convergent device. You know the things that cram everything into one, sometimes, easy to use package. Mobile phones are a bit of a counter point to this as they seem to take two steps forward 4 steps back (I mean yay I can stream live video but the battery last 20 minutes). My current favorite future thing is my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS. Look at this thing:
Firstly it’s the size of a watch. Okay a very big watch, but that’s fine I have big wrists. Secondly it contains an entire GPS, heart rate monitor, etc. In the size of a watch! The GPS means that it’s talking, well listening, to satellites. In space! Thirdly I can work out how to use it without getting terribly confused. Fourthly the battery lasts a reasonable amount of time and charges off USB, I think everything should charge via GPS. Fifthly, it’s the size of a watch! Sixthly it plays nice with my computer and the software I like to use with it. Actually I find the software ,SportsTracks, a bit confusing sometimes. But then I’ve written reporting interfaces far worse so it’s not really worth complaining. So this magical “watch” can be used for running, which I used to do more of, and riding, which I now do a lot of, and just walking around if you feel like it. All this for $220, that’s around about 22 morning coffees + lunches. You should all go buy one now.
“But wait!” I hear you ask. I hear you because I’m in tune with you gentle reader. “What can I actually do with ‘Future Watch’?” Glad you asked because you know I like to insert pictures in here to make it look like I can write. Well firstly you can do stuff like this:
When Capt Cook sailed to New Zealand he drew a “map”. While it was considered to be amazingly detailed at the time, there’s obviously things wrong with it. Like Stewart Island is connected to the mainland and Fijordland doesn’t exist. See calculating longitude was really hard and people spent a lot of time trying to work it out. If you ask me, and why wouldn’t you, they should have skipped all the exploring and gone straight to designing sattelites. What Cook, and lots of other early explorers, needed was a GPS watch. All that guesswork gone, I bet Cook would have felt like he was living in the future. But what else can it do! Behold one of my favorite things in the world, a graph (or chart if you’re from the USA):
Here’s a simple and easy to read chart showing speed, heart rate, cadence and elevation vs distance…. okay, okay hang on.
More sensible graph!
This show speed, in blue, and heart rate, (in red) against distance. You can see the when I suddenly go faster I’m probably going downhill and my hear rate drops. There also seems to be a downward trend in both speed and heart rate as I get further into the ride. I think this means I got lazy, but hey it was a long way. Seriously though these charts are really useful if you know how to read them, they can give a really good indication of your fitness. Seeing that I have no idea on how to read them I just make it up. There’s more I could go on with, you can load in track data ahead of time, use the pre-programmed interval workouts, etc. There’s not much to do with moving that it doesn’t do.
If you’re still reading this and haven’t gone straight out and bought one of these then I don’t know what else to say. Garmin is not, currently, paying me to write this stuff (although I’m open to test units) so I really mean it when I say the future is here and it’s a watch. Mind you I wouldn’t say no to a flying car too.