These smart-ish watches paved the way for the Apple Watch

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It's bulky looking but Casio's SATELLITE NAVI had GPS to help wearers find their way around. Photo: Svet Satova
It's bulky-looking but Casio's SATELLITE NAVI had GPS to help wearers find their way around. Photo: Svet Satova

The Apple Watch and everything it will do is not a new idea. Watches for years have been able to store data, give us directions, offer a means to communicate at a distance and, yes, show us our heartbeat.

 It’s just that you couldn’t get all of those functions wearing just one watch. For each function, there was a separate wrist gadget.

So on the eve of the Apple Watch launch, consider the technologically advanced timepieces that paved the way to this momentous day. You might be even more impressed with the power of your new device.

The smart detective who inspired today’s smartwatch

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A child calls a buddy on his Dick Tracy Two-Way Wrist Radio in this 1960s commercial.
A child calls a buddy on his Dick Tracy Two-Way Wrist Radio in this 1960s commercial.

I have no plans to buy a smartwatch at the moment, but when I do, I already know the first command to give it.

I’m going to make my jaw as square as possible, activate the phone for my first call (probably to my wife), and say: “Calling all cars! Calling all cars!”

With Android Wear already here and Apple Watch on the way, we must salute detective Dick Tracy and his his two-way wrist radio.

Comic strip creator Chester Gould first strapped a wrist radio on Dick Tracy in 1946. He upgraded it to a wrist television in the 1960s. Tracy never complained about dropped calls or bandwidth problems.

From Dick Tracy to Apple Watch: 70 years of smartwatches

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The Pulsar might have been the reality of digital watches around the time that Apple started, but what was predicted by the age’s futurists? The 1979 Usborne book Future Cities: Homes & Living Into the 21st Century describes the arrival of

The Pulsar might have been the reality of digital watches around the time that Apple started, but what was predicted by the age’s futurists? The 1979 Usborne book Future Cities: Homes & Living Into the 21st Century describes the arrival of "wrist-phones" or “ristos.” These devices, the authors predicted, would work with cellphones and GPS equipment.

"City dwellers of tomorrow could have a small gadget of enormous benefit — a wristwatch radio-telephone,” the book notes. "With a wristwatch radio, you could talk to anyone, wherever you happened to be.... If you were late for an appointment, it would be easy to let the other people know.... It ought to be impossible to get lost in tomorrow's world, in a city or out of it.... The wrist-phone can provide guidance back to the nearest town.” Pretty accurate, no?

Picture: EDC Publishing


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iWatch might make Dick Tracy’s 2-way wrist radio a reality

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Given that a large proportion of Silicon Valley is made up of sci-fi geeks, it’s no surprise that over the years tech has focused on bringing to life many of the once outlandish concepts seen in movies, TV series and comic books.With the Apple Watch bringing several more of these to life -- Dick Tracy’s 2-Way Wrist Radio among them -- we thought the time was right to run down our 8 favorite sci-fi gadgets we’d love to see turn into actual products, as outlandish as some of them might be.After all, you never know when Bill Gates is going to be scanning a blog, looking for ways to unload his fortune.Scan right to check out the rest of the gallery.(Picture: Dick Tracy)

Given that a large proportion of Silicon Valley is made up of sci-fi geeks, it’s no surprise that over the years tech has focused on bringing to life many of the once outlandish concepts seen in movies, TV series and comic books.

With the Apple Watch bringing several more of these to life -- Dick Tracy’s 2-Way Wrist Radio among them -- we thought the time was right to run down our 8 favorite sci-fi gadgets we’d love to see turn into actual products, as outlandish as some of them might be.

After all, you never know when Bill Gates is going to be scanning a blog, looking for ways to unload his fortune.

Scan right to check out the rest of the gallery.

(Picture: Dick Tracy)


The iWatch is coming. No one really know what it will do yet, but Steven Milunovich, UBS’ top Apple analyst, claims that if Apple has its way, you’ll use the iWatch mostly to send voice messages back and forth with your friends, like Dick Tracy’s 2-Way Wrist Radio.

Because voice messaging is so huge among smartphone users in China, Milunovich says sending voice messages will be one of iWatch’s biggest features along with fitness. And even though it sounds a little silly that voice messages would be the main draws for iWatch, he just met with Tim Cook who couldn’t stop talking about it.

This Gorgeous iWatch Concept Is Part Dick Tracy, Part Blade Runner [Gallery]

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iwatch

ADR Studios is the Italian design company behind the iPhone SJ, a sultry concept design for the iPhone 5 featuring an edge-to-edge capacitive touchscreen, 10 megapixel camera, A6 processor, and a polycarbonate body that’s about as light as you can imagine.

It’s a design that’s not realistically going to happen, but we’ve been a little obsessed with it for the last month or so. We feel similarly about ADR’s new iWatch2 concept: Apple’s never going to make a device that was so exclusively and unapologetically a wristwatch, but if they did, man, I wish it would look like this.