I bought a Smart Watch recently. It pained me to do it. The prices are outrageous and my already dwindling bank account could barely sustain the hit. But I recently became a father, and my own dad battled weight issues his whole life, so a watch seemed like a step in the right direction.
I shopped the market heavily and did my own research. Apple seemed overpriced. Android seemed too complicated. I was never a wizard with technology. I’m a farm boy, after all, and I never had much use for gadgets. I wanted something simple. Something that could count my steps, keep an eye on my vitals, and get an ambulance on the way in case my heart exploded in my chest. That sort of thing.
One late night last month, after a few too many beers, I simply got tired of looking. I craved the drug like rush of a fresh online order and I took to the Internet to find something to fulfill the need. I read a couple of reviews on Reddit about the AutoHealth beta. It sounded pretty neat, so I dug a little bit more. For the low price of fifty bucks, the beta promised to count steps, monitor heart rate, and provide perfected minute by minute sleep patterns. I took the bait hook line and sinker and signed myself up that night. They asked for my demographics, my relationship status, whether anyone shared my bed. I usually slept in the guest room, largely due to my fog horn snoring, so I answered ‘no’. There must have been a thousand waivers. But I didn’t read any of them. I’ll blame that on the booze.
AutoHealth promised to ship later that week.
I went about my life. The diet started to slip from my mind. I fell back into my old habit of ordering pizza and conking out on the couch with a six pack of beer working it’s way on empty. The day the device finally arrived, a week later, I was five pounds heavier, battling heartburn, and struggling to make it through the daily walks with my daughter’s bus stop. My wife even made a comment that I seemed a little lazier than usual lately.
Enough was enough. I needed to take my health seriously.
I opened up the package and skimmed through the information packets. The wrapping looked pretty. All of the envelopes and boxes were labeled with a neat ‘AH’ in red lettering on a black background. The band itself was an extremely minimalistic black string that wrapped around the thumb and met the inch long screen around the part of the wrist where the veins meet. I followed the directions and tied it on after a brief struggle. The damn thing felt like it could cut off my circulation. But the instructions said that could be expected.
And then I set about my new life.
I’ll admit that it felt better to have some extra motivation to exercise. It almost felt like a game. Each day I wanted to best my previous step score. So I hustled through every chore. I took the stairs at every opportunity. I took up jogging. I took my daughter on long walks, spent time outside with the dog, and even helped my wife with the groceries – all in the name of beating myself at my own game – burning calories.
And it worked.
I could feel the pounds sliding off morning by morning. My wife complimented me. My clothes fit better. My daughter chased me around the house, and I could keep up, for once, without feeling like we might need a defibrillator on standby. The watch guided me all the way, always pushing me, always beckoning to do better and be better and strive for the best.
It wasn’t until a month or so later that I started looking into some of the other features.
The AutoHeart tab was filled with tons of interesting information. Some of it seemed too complex to even understand. Enormous graphs with thousands of data points monitored my heart every thirty seconds for jumps or plummets. The green ratings indicated a normal heart rate, and the red indicated an elevation, which usually occurred during workouts or walks. Over time my heart rate seemed to be filled with more and more red and orange. Which was a good thing, I think, as red and orange indicated fat burn. Everything related to my heart seemed to be on track, so I popped over to the AutoSleep tab.
That’s where things got weird.
Autosleep tracked every movement, snore, and fart throughout the night via a tiny microphone attached to the watch’s screen. Thirty days worth of intricate data sat ready to be read at my fingertips. Right off the bat I could see that my sleep was poor. A warning message popped up at the top, chiding me for my bad behavior, and a red X covered my percentages.
Last night, you accumulated two hours and seventeen minutes of deep sleep.
You were restless for four hours hours and fifteen minutes.
I dismissed the warning and dove into the previous evening’s minute by minute tracker.
At first it sounded like my normal sleep routine. I stayed awake for the last few minutes of Seinfeld. I started to fade during the commercials. But as soon as my first blissful snore vibrated through the nearby microphone, a metallic whirring blared through my speakers. The not so subtle sound of drill poking through flesh soon followed. I grunted mildly in my sleep.
And then some sort of vacuum opened up.
The noise could only be described as a thick liquid being sucked through a straw. The machine gulped and gurgled a few times. A fluid whirled down the metal tube. I grunted in response.
Then it stopped.
The drill slithered back into wherever the fuck it came from and my monotonous snores resumed their symphony.
I mashed the back button and checked the other nights. The results nearly made me wet myself. The same repetitive pattern took place every hour, on the hour. First the drill went in, then the drill came out, then I went back to snoring. I checked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, last week, last month, it didn’t matter. I never woke up. I never noticed the horribly loud buzzing and the horrific squelching that followed. I just sat there, tossing and turning like an oaf, while fuck knows what sucked some shit out of my veins and replaced it with something else.
I checked my wrist for a scar. But there was nothing.
And then the watch turned off.
I jammed every button and key on the damn thing. I took it off. I put it back on. I tried charging it. I tried not charging it. Nothing worked. Eventually, I slammed the device against my granite countertop, in frustration and in fear for what was inside. But the screen remained intact. I grabbed some pliers and tried to pry it open. I took a blowtorch to the screen. I even tried running the stupid piece of shit over with my truck.
But nothing worked.
I marched over to my computer, opened Google, and searched desperately to find the website that sold me the watch so many weeks ago. But it was gone.
It’s still gone.
Every trace of the damn thing has disappeared from the Internet. No email confirmation. No request to join some bullshit mailing list. Even my credit card’s billing history is missing the $50 entry. I reported my experience to the police, and then Better Business Bureau, but nobody took me seriously. The former actually laughed when I told them my Smart Watch might be stealing my blood.
So I’m trying here.
I’ll admit that this encounter sounds a lot like something out of 1984, but I’m scared, and more than a little panicked. I’m worried about what this thing has done to me. Did I really lose the weight? Am I really healthy? Or is the itching in my arm an indication that I am more than likely losing my mind? I really want to put it back on. Even if it doesn’t work. It just feels right to have it around my wrist. I’m starting to gain weight again. I don’t think I could lose it alone. I don’t want to go back to the way I used to be.
Last night I got a letter in the mail.
Thank you for your participation in the AutoHealth beta. Remote activation imminent. Payment to follow shortly.