On Wednesday, Apple cofounder and Silicon Valley idol Steve Wozniak took the stage at the DEMO Fall 2014 show to tout his new company, Primary Data, a startup that will focus on data virtualisation for enterprises. Wozniak, or ‘Woz,’ is the company’s new chief scientist, and he left his previous role at Fusion.io, where he held the same title, to join the new venture.
Wozniak served mostly as a smiling face during the Primary Data announcement, but he talked for five minutes after that presentation about his thoughts on consumer products versus enterprise products, the role engineers play in the tech world today and about wearables, including smartwatches and the much anticipated Apple Watch.
The cherubic, bearded Wozniak, wearing an untucked black work shirt emblazoned with the Primary Data logo on the right breast and blue athletic shoes, started his spiel on wearables by showing off a rather clunky looking gadget strapped to his wrist, which turned out to be a notably low-tech “Nixie Watch” made of cathode tubes that glow bright orange to display the time.
It is “old, old technology, but adapted to a watch,” Wozniak said. “It’s so clever, I wish I thought of it and built it myself, but I bought it online.”
Wozniak choose to wear that watch instead of one of today’s most popular smartwatches. “All of the [smart]watches I’ve tried, they’re all so similar,” Wozniak said. “What’s the difference between the Sony and the Samsung Gear and all the different ones? I’ve tried a few and so far haven’t been turned on.”
He does think the concept is a valid one and that it’s only a matter of time before some company gets the smartwatch right. “Someday some wearable product is going to hit, and everybody is going to say, ‘Yes! It’s time to go back to watches. Somebody got the right formula.’”
When asked why he wasn’t wearing the Apple Watch, Wozniak responded, “The Apple Watch is not out. That’s why.”
“At least the Apple Watch tends to be very different, with a lot of the extra fitness [features], monitoring your glucose levels and things like that.”
So will he give the Apple Watch a chance when it becomes available next year?
“I’ll try it, I’ll try it, I’ll try it,” the engineer said with enthusiasm – and maybe a bit of amused frustration about constantly being asked about the Apple Watch.