MetaWatch allows users to be both polite, a spy

Imagine your favorite super spy movie. Remember that super-cool watch the main character wears? The one that shoots rockets, detects radiation and still looks sleek? What if you could own something like that?

HP released the MetaWatch last month at an event in Shanghai, China. The MetaWatch isn’t a spy device but a “connected watch” that would allow the user to check into social media sites like FourSquare, see Facebook and Twitter updates and send notifications about unread emails.

The watch would be a great product to have and would solve social etiquette issues even if the idea of wearing a watch may be outdated.

The watch has Bluetooth technology but would eventually have Wi-Fi capability, making it a mobile wireless hotspot on your wrist. It would not hold a vast amount of information but instead would just notify the user of updates. It also has buttons that can be programmed to deliver pre-programmed responses.

The watch was first imagined in 2006 by Phil McKinney, then was picked up by Fossil and prototyped into a digital and an analog watch. It is not the throwback to HP’s 1977 calculator watch that was ultimately a flop. Rather, it would be an extension of the notification systems in various social media programs.

Watches are on the rise too, according to a March 19 article from The New York Times citing an NPD study. The study said the causal watch market in the U.S. had sales of about $2.35 billion in 2010 and was up 4 percent since 2008. The study showed a 33 percent sales increase in the 35-44 age group and a 104 percent sales increase in the 65 and older age group. Although sales in the 18-24 age group fell 29 percent, the need for a wristwatch may increase with a need for better social etiquette.

It is just flat-out bad manners to check your phone when speaking to someone. It is a nonverbal way of telling someone that they are not important enough to have all of your attention. I am just as guilty, but let’s break this down.

If you’re checking your phone when you should be doing something else, such as class, driving or speaking to anyone, you are suggesting that you are either: A) more important than the situation or B) so unintelligent that you can’t recognize your own actions as a mistake as being either dangerous or disrespectful.

Phones have a place and a time. They are not acceptable in church, at the dinner table or in class. If people must have their phones with them, putting the phones on silent is the best option. Vibrate is not acceptable unless the situation does not require your utmost attention, such as in casually social situations — like in a dorm room. Also, let’s not kid ourselves here — vibrate is not silent.

Cell phones are a great invention for safety and for maintaining relationships. There are other ways of checking the time, however. People wouldn’t pull out their cameras or their computers to check the time — that would be awkward and rude. Considering the capabilities of phones today, the same rules apply.

So a wristwatch is the best option for checking the time without appearing too rude. Yes, checking your watch when someone else is talking is also rude, but if you’ve previously informed them you have a previous engagement, it’s not rude and the same goes for phones and phone calls.

The idea of the MetaWatch is a great compromise on both sides of the social etiquette argument. It allows people to follow traditional social norms and stay connected to social media that has proved its worth. While the success of the MetaWatch hasn’t been determined yet, one may want to start seriously considering saving for one now.

Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.