Surprise and Delight Indeed! I ❤️ Apple Watch

Admittedly, I ordered the Apple Watch because I am a geek girl at heart.  I justified my purchase of the 36mm (smaller) sports version because of my research on wearables and to test an application under development.  I pre-ordered it fairly early on the day it became available.  My purchase confirmation stated “June” as my delivery date.  Sigh, I will just have to wait, I thought.

Needless to say, as I am writing this now, I got it sooner.  In fact, this was the first surprise and delight.  I received a notification the day before the launch that my AppleWatch would be arriving with UPS the next day.  Nicely done, Apple, under promise and over deliver.

First Apple Watch TextI quickly set it up and began fiddling with it.  I sent a voice to text message to my husband in Sweden.  It was simple and actually got my voice.  To be fair, I’ve had a little practice as I often voice to text when on the go: dictating thoughts for my dissertation, or texting.  Speaking with punctuation doesn’t both me.

I wasn’t planning on writing a “review” per say of the Apple Watch.  In fact I normally shy away from doing this for any one product or brand.  But after reading some of the ridiculous reviews that I do not feel reflect my experience, I felt compelled at least to share mine.

This is my personal experience, so let me provide a little context. I wear many hats. I have 25+ years as a professional working with emerging social technologies.  I am currently doing my doctoral dissertation on wearables and presence of mind in the workplace.  I am 46 year old mother of a tween and teen (with very active schedules). I am married to a Swede who travels more than half the year. I have a pretty active lifestyle, in other words, I exercise but go through phases of inconsistency (who doesn’t?).  We moved from Sweden to the San Francisco Bay Area just over a year ago, from one hyper-connected region to another.  I needed to increase my year round vitamin D intake and activity to combat my season affective disorder (SAD). It worked!  Given my many hats, balancing the various roles and their overlaps is a constant in my life.

My research set my expectations on the variables in developing wearables like battery life, sensor strength, size and even materials.  I am impressed with the range from the phone.  So far, this has not been an issue for me, often using them on opposing side and floors of the house.  The aluminum frame is light and despite my activity level, seems tough enough for normal wear (no blender test here).  The band is the nicest I have experienced for something rubber based.  I actually don’t mind wearing it.  I have been testing countless wearables in the wellness and notification category in the last three years and several I even continued to wear daily.  This has given me a sense of their potential purpose as well as the expectations in the trade-offs.  For example, I knew not to expect the Watch to extract from the ambient energy my body creates to power it (not yet, anyway).  I would have to take it off and charge it.  As I have said before, wearables are in their infancy. Think back to the mobile phone in a briefcase to align with where we are now using the smartphone.  The factors of design innovation, user critical mass and infrastructure all had to move together to get us to where we are today with a computer in our pockets (or on our wrists).

Apple Watch "Get off your Bum"So for the heart.  I didn’t think I would be using the texting or answering the phone on my wrist.  That said, these are the functions that I use most.  In fact often at the same time (well replying to a text via the Apple Watch while talking on the iPhone).  I like that with a gentle tap followed by the raise of my wrist, I can respond with quick voice to text.  After a couple of days it came as second nature.  So much so, that I caught myself wondering why people were looking at me talking into my watch as I walked through the square.  Oops, I guess I just showed my inner geek girl on the outside.  I had received a similar look while wearing my first handsfree headset.  At least this time they didn’t look at me like I was crazy.

For productivity, I use it to filter and “feed” me just what I need. I no longer keep my phone on my desk, limiting the notifications of things that sneak through the filters.  With the Watch, I keep my workflow going, only responding to what I have identified as critical (even then sometimes with a tap to send “can’t talk right now”).  I add my thoughts through dictation to text directly into Evernote to integrate in my research notes from wherever I am.  I have now resumed my morning hikes, accompanied by an audio book (a different kind of “action research”) which I control from the watch. Audible needs an app to bookmark and comment.  Nothing like productivity and wellness combined.

The ApplePay function from the Watch took a couple times to figure out.  That said, the additional step feels more secure rather than a hindrance.  I paid from my groceries post-hike and even picked up an extra cable at the Apple Store, using it ApplePay from it.

The funny thing is, I thought I would mostly be using the Watch for the wellness functions. Particularly as Wellness is related to my research.  The reminder to stand (or as I refer to it, “get off your bum”) feature has been a lovely surprise.  I can normally sit and write when in flow for hours.  This is not healthy.  The gentle reminder to stand works great and so far enables me to keep right on working.  I just stand at my desk while I finish typing.  I like the fact that it does track and perhaps help with the aggregate capture of my health data.  But not being personally into quantified health (someone who loves to track their own data), this is less relevant for me.  That said, I do find it motivating to go for a hike when I see I haven’t moved enough.

I do still use my other fitness wearables when I want to track sleep patterns (the watch charges overnight on my bedside) and breath (Watch still doesn’t measure this).  To be sure there is room for improvement, but this is only the first version. With time, as we have seen with all devices worth developing further it will get slimmer (battery), stronger (processing) and more capable with time and the dedication of the teams working on it.

As an active multi-tasking Mamma, scholar and professional, Apple Watch has got my vote!  Nicely done Apple!

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Competitive Mindfulness

Mindful v MindfulnessCompetitive mindfulness may sound like a complete oxymoron. I have recently observed this during my dissertation research on Wearables and Presence in the Workplace.  I thought it might be worth sharing to see where the conversation goes.

The concept of competitive mindfulness was rather humorous to me at first.  Interaxon’s Muse, one of the devices in my study, is an EEG monitoring headband accompanied by a smartphone game that teaches the user to improve their focus. When the user is focused, they get birds. As their attention sways, the wind picks up.  My kids and their friends hijacked two of the units to see who could get more birds.  Initially they strategically disappeared into the other room to ensure minimal distraction for best results.  It did not take long before they could sit amongst the chaos of kids to accomplish their focus. In fact they seemed to be listening more, both to themselves and others. Not to me, of course. That would take more than two weeks, and the devices needed to be delivered for my study. Is competition so wrong, if that is what it takes to interest them in improving their focus?

Several weeks ago, I attended Wisdom 2.0.  It was an interesting mix of mindfulness from meditation and yoga to conscious business and self-awareness.  The participants ranged from practitioners to wellness providers, leadership development professionals, organization psychologists and coaches.  I tried to soak it all in and capture the pieces that are relevant to my dissertation (trying to focus myself to get it done, rather than get distracted by the many tangents I could have taken).

Morsels of conversations debating mindfulness as meditation, what meditation means and its purpose.  I was surprised, well not too, at condescending comments towards non-daily meditators.  “When you do it, you will understand mindfulness.”  Doesn’t sound like a very compassionate and non-judgmental thing to say. It is my own belief that method for achieving mindfulness comes from within each person.  One could be laying in the bath, hiking a ridge or sitting in lotus pose with their eyes closed.  I believe it is not the method, but the goal of listening to one’s self and experiencing the world, in the moment, without judgement.

There are other smartphone apps and wearables that have mindfulness components to them.  Some of them have sharing elements that one can choose to make competitive.  One app is based on Mindfulness expert Jack Kornfield and Adam Gazzaley  research in contemplative neuroscience.  Simply by their using the term “neurocrossfit” has an element of competition insinuated.  Deepak Chopra says, “”I think this is the best way to reach a lot of people,” of his app and use of Dreamweaver for meditation.

lagomDon’t get me wrong, I think competitive mindfulness is great, in moderation.  If a competitive component is what is needed to develop greater compassion, self-awareness, and less judgement, is that a problem.  Of course, full disclosure, I thrive on a little bit of competition.  Not too much, but just enough or ”lagom.”  If there is one thing I learned in my life in Sweden, it is the beauty of “lagom,” which I think applies well here.

I can just hear my kids now, “I fell asleep faster than you.” “Yeah, I got a higher compassion score than you.” (Or, is this just me dreaming?)  I look forward to seeing how they will respond to  Spire. Who can be more balanced between focus, fitness and calm.  If this is what they are competitive about, I am not too worried. If they master yoga poses and breathing with intent to nail a pose better than anyone else, this at least gets them on the mat.  The other pieces may follow.  In fact, I think there is a great deal of hope in competitive mindfulness.  Especially when to goal is to achieve personal best, competitive with oneself.

Is competitive mindfulness, the future?  For those who think meditation will make them better people but still judge others who don’t meditate, you have work to do.  Competition does not equal judgment.  Maybe a walk in the woods or a long bath would do you good.  I feel for you and am right there with you.  We all have work to do to strive for our personal best that mutually serves us and the greater system.  Only then, can we thrive together.  Lagom competition for a balance of empathy, compassion, humility and reality is a better goal for competitive mindfulness.  How many birds can you get, or compassionate deeds can you do in one day?

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Reflections from Wisdom 2.0

Be wise, be sillyOne of the most beautiful things about Wisdom and Mindfulness is what it brings out in people.  It has been a long time since I laughed so hard my belly hurt and smiled so much my cheeks ached.  This, all in the midst of profound learnings quiet inspiration and deep thought.  Did I get what I expected out of Wisdom 2.0? Why, yes indeed and more. Despite not being in (my usual) network and share mode, I met some amazing people with brilliant minds and fascinating stories.

To be clear, this was about research for me.  My intentions were, at least, that.  I’m in the depths of writing my doctoral dissertation on Wearable Technologies and Presence in the Workplace.  I was drawn to the speaker list (half of who’s books are included in my literature review).  I attended with my student hat on, intending to understand how wisdom and mindfulness are being adopted into organizations.  All my (book) research was pointing to corporate wellness programs.  What I was excited to see what that it, the Mindfulness Movement, was driven from a much more grass roots level.  Of course, for it to be accepted and supported (in other words given a budget) it had to show value for money.  The ROI through some form of metrics (performance, decreased absenteeism and presenteeism, engagement…).

The advocates and ambassadors of Mindfulness are breaking into the domain of leadership.  Listening to Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO, we all secretly wished that we were working for such an enlightened and authentic leader.  As he lead the chorus “Sitting by the dock of the bay,…” we imagined ourselves part of his camp.  Ming Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow and founder of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI)gave us pause to the potential for extending these practices to other organizations with joy.  It is easy to get excited by the potential of conscious leadership and business practices when lead by such compassionate and wise leaders.  It is neither simply fluff nor driven by health related issues.  These guys mean business, with heart.

Some take-aways that I especially appreciated

  • Christine Carter (Happiness Expert) “Don’t lean in if it means leaning out from your sweet spot.”
  • Tristan Harris (Google, Product Manager) “Consumer demand can drive design change with the metric: time WELL spent.”
  • Adam Gazzaley (Neuroscientist) Innovation using video game mechanics can provide neurocrossfit for our plastic brains
  • Sherry Turkle (author) “The unedited life is most fulfilling”
  • Fred Kofman (author) “What is good for you doesn’t always taste good.”
  • Meng Tan (SIYLI) “Business at its best reduces suffering.”
  • Julia Hartz (Eventbrite Co-Founder) “say YES”

Next time I attend Wisdom 2.0, I will have finished my research and dissertation.  I hope to have something that will be worthy of sharing there.  But even more so, I look forward to taking the opportunity to be more present and enjoy the more extensive offerings in lectures, workshops and yoga that I missed this round.  Today I return to writing and research mode with a new

Note: Some of you may have seen me there and felt a twinge of frustration as my head was focused down on my iPad, rather than at the stage from which wisdom bestowed.  I was listening, far more deeply than you realize.  For me this my way of mindfully and creatively capturing the experience and learnings.  My Wisdom 2.0 sketchnotes album is below, and feel free to enjoy, share and download them if you like.

Link to flickr album for Sketchnotes from Wisdom 2.0

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Wearables for Women at CES


CES2015 is over, but the lingering of great innovation, flashing lights (both on us and around us) of Vegas remain in our minds. Our panel on Wearables for Women: innovations from fashion to function, was great. Special thanks to my panelists from Narrative, HearNotes Inc, Interaxon, Sensoria and S.A.F.E. Family Wearables. I quick apology to you all for the beeping shirt. I had not realized that it was audible to the rest of the room. Nonetheless, I think you all were brilliant and I love what you are developing.

What’s next? Well, a look to my near future is diving deep into my research on the outcomes of all these amazing innovations we call wearables. I have a few upcoming speaking engagements to share the progress over the next few months. If I “go silent” know that I have not disappeared.  I am simply deep in writing mode.  I hope to be able to share the final results with you by early Summer. I was able to pick up a few new and exciting devices for my dissertation study on wearable technologies and presence of mind. As a result, if you are interested, there is still a few spots available to register new participants.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/wearables-presence 

Here’s a few more treats I came across on my CES adventure.

Wearables Loving the Light at CES

Wearables Loving the Light at CES

Fashion meets Function at CES2015

Fashion meets Function: Wearables at CES2015

Wearables improving quality of life at CES2015

Wearables improving quality of life at CES2015

For those who are interested in the next steps of 2BalanceU, check out the teaser site for the App we are developing based on the research study. 2BalanceU.com

Special thanks to Robin Raskin of Living in Digital Times for inviting me to moderate this diverse panel. I promise next time I will check for feedback on my wearables!  Kudos on a great event!

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10 Gifts for Geek Girls with Style

I give in. Everyone is asking me for recommendations on wearables and presence gifts for presents. Tis the season. So here they are, some of my favorites holiday shopping tips for the geek girl who wants to stay connected without losing her head.  Oh yes, and all of them can be ordered online so you can avoid the holiday craziness and keep your holiday spirit alive.

Elizabeth-Ann-Purse-In-Boots-European1. Purse in Boots

Purse in Boots is such a brilliant idea, I am so glad someone finally acted on it, and with style. I haven’t gotten mine yet, but I am hoping Santa will deliver. I gave up on the “one for you, one for me” holiday shopping. So I guess I will have to wait.  They come in several different styles. Looks like they are selling out quickly.  So if your girl needs her phone on hand and hates pockets, I would order them soon.

tile-don't lose it2. Tile

Tile, a tracking device to attach to all the things you don’t want to lose.  Ok, so this may not be what they meant to track (much as we would like it too sometimes).  But these great little trackers use crowd sourcing to find your favorite items from bikes to keys.  Buy them in multipacks and you can keep track of all the good stuff you care about and even have some left over to put in your kids backpacks.  Come to think of it, this might be the new wine charm I have been looking for.

3. Shine Bloom

bloomShine Bloom takes an already well designed beautiful fitness and sleep wearable device and makes it into a fashion statement.  I love the approach behind Sunny Vu’s work to make wearables wearable.  It should be something that will be worn even when its discharged.  Not that this is a major issue with Shine, as the charge should last a year, rather than ever several days.

4. Ring.ly

Ring.ly caught my eye early last year.  They are just now ringly-featuresending out their early orders, but I have seen them in person and I can’t wait for mine to arrive.  Being one who often misses calls and notifications from turning the ringer off, this will be a blessing.  I never liked having the phone on the table.  Unlike men,we girls tend not to have pockets big enough to accommodate a phone that will be close to the body (and feel the vibration).  Founder, Christina Merkando, has done a beautiful job designing wearable functional art.

5. Jyars

jyarsI love these little containers.  When I travel I use one for each of my medicinal necessities (sleep, pain, allergies) in color coding.  They are sturdy and well sealed.  The moment Aldo, the founder and friend, turned me onto these little Jyars I couldn’t get enough of them.  I love giving them as the unexpected gift too.  Any geek girl who is into homeopathic remedies will thank you for this one. OK, I admit it is not wearable (although they fit in an old film canister sling).  But when I can find my meds to keep me from being tired, in pain or sneezing, I am definitely more present.

6.  Vessyl

vessylFor those of us to who consume too much caffeine or sugar and not enough water, here’s an interesting new one.  Dehydration or over stimulation on caffeine can be major presence inhibitors.  So keep your geek girl hydrated.  Vessyl is supposed to evaluate and track your intake coming from your beverages.  Unless you have a built in cup holder on your hip, this one is not wearable.  I have to admit, I haven’t tried it yet, so not sure of the accuracy.  I am waiting for mine and look forward to seeing how it works.  If it just gets me to increase my daily hydration, I will be happy enough.

Spoon Stylus7. Spoon Stylus

Does your geek girl like to cook?  If she is like me, the iPad is the source of the best recipes quickly.  Keep the tech clean and easy to access by giving her the cooking spoon stylus.  They can be found at loads of places, including Bed, Bath and Beyond.  A great stocking stuffer or hostess gift for the geek girl cook (or her partner/kids who dangerously messes with her tech with gooey fingers).

8. Docking/Charging Station

dockchargerAll these devices and their chargers can be both hard to keep track of and batteries loaded.  I love having a docking/charging station for them when I get home. (If your geek girl has kids, you might want two.) This keeps them at the ready for my next adventure, but keeps me present for my family.  There are many different styles, so rather than take my recommendation, look for one that matches hers.  I like this combo dock and charger to minimize cables.  Wearable tech is great, but most of them still need to be charged fairly regularly.  Until the battery life issue is fixed, at least you know will know where the chargers and devices are in the house.

9. Spire

spire-and-chargerAnother beautiful and functional wearable that is starting to ship now is the Spire.  It is all about balance, and tracks breathing as well.  For us ladies, we can wear it most discretely in the cleavage part of the bra.  But it can also be clipped at the hip.  I recently met with the founder, Neema Moraveji, who is part of the Stanford Calming Technology Lab and got to see the device first hand.  I have high hopes for this one.  There is great science behind it, which takes it beyond the gadget factor.  Keep an eye out for it.  If your geek girl is patient enough, she might be happy with getting on the pre-order list.

chat pack10. Chat Pack Extreme

To give the ultimate gift of presence, let’s go low tech.  One of my favorites are the chat packs created by Bret Nicholaus and Paul Lowrie.  You can find them in loads of local bookstores and gift shops (and of course on Amazon.com).  They come in different themes.  Great for sparking a little conversation while devices are docked during dinner.  My kids even are willing to partake and even enjoy it.  I particularly like the Chat Pack Extreme.

So there you have it, my ten recommendations for wearables and presence for presents this holiday season.  I will be spending my holiday crunching data and preparing for my dissertation on wearables and presence of mind.  I will make a point of checking out to be present as a present with my family during the holidays.  I will think of you all bringing presence as presents this year.  Feel free to share any ideas that you have for great devices and tips on wearables and presence.  I think we all could use them.  Warmest of wishes!

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Social Through Wearables


Slide deck from keynote on Social Through Wearables. Social optimization requires an understanding of self and others to provide the MUTUAL benefit to relationship building. This study explores wearable technologies as an intervention for bringing greater awareness and presence into social engagement. Slide deck from keynote on Social Through Wearables based on research in Wearables and presence of mind in the workplace.

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#WebSummit Day3 Impressions and Sketchnotes

The flickr album is updated with both sketchnotes and a little video of the guys from Mo’Joes having fun with their product. It has been a great Summit. Hope you all had fun. Please feel free to share the sketches and let me know your impressions and ideas.

I am exited to see the repeated call for added value on the wearables side of things. This positions my research on wearables and presence of mind in the workplace perfectly. For now, back to San Francisco. I will be speaking about Wearables in the Workplace at the StartUp Tech Mixer on the 14th and the Product Summit on the 20th. Hope to see you there.  In the meantime, enjoy the sketchnotes on Wearables and Internet of Things from the Web Summit!

Link to flickr album for Sketchnotes from Web Summit 2014 in Dublin

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Impressions WebSummit, Day Two

The flickr album is updated with both sketchnotes and photos:

Link to flickr album for Sketchnotes from Web Summit 2014 in Dublin

What a great day. The sun even joined us making the stroll to the Food Summit a welcome excursion in the sun (and delicious food!). Met some great people with Jamie Oliver Group doing exciting things in Digital. Loved the Cute Circuit presentation. Wish I had a moment with Mike Bell to talk wearables and the reason for them. I hope my research will provide some good insight there. Took a wander through the start-up stands and saw quite a range of innovations. Great to feel the vibe and passion of these new players in the market. Back tomorrow, until then… g’nite.

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Sketchnotes/Reflections Day One at WebSummit 2014

Link to flickr album for Sketchnotes from Web Summit 2014 in Dublin

More to come, as this is just Day One. I was particularly impressed and excited by Sara Robb O’Hagan’s call for turning insights into action and understanding behavioral change. Lo and behold, she even put in a push for mindfulness. Great stuff from the Equinox. Met some great characters today in the startup booths with passion and innovation burning strong. I just wish they would take Sonny Vu’s advice and design for more the market beyond men in tech. There is some pretty ugly gear out there. Ah, well, there is room for improvement, innovation and creativity. So that is exciting.

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