Tag Archives: Wearable Tech

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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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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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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Recruiting for Wearables & Presence Study, update

Now comeWearable Technology Beyond the wrists the moment of truth, my dissertation research study on Wearables and Presence in the workplace will kick off in a month.   The study should help us understand if using wearables can be an intervention for improving presence (in the moment: sense-of-self and sense-of-others). The devices in the study are in the monitor-alert category.    It is an independent scholarly study (not market research) for a doctoral dissertation in Human and Organization Systems at Fielding Graduate University.

I have 100 devices for the study and have just decided to open it to unreleased devices.  More data is better.

Are you a wearable developer and have at least five finished prototypes that can be used for the length of the six week study (starting November 1st)?  Please contact me before October 22nd to discuss. You would need to be able to provide customer support for the participants for the six week study to be sure the results are not skewed from improper use or device failure in pre-release.

Recruiting participants: Are you interested in wearable technologies’ potential beyond utility and/or your ability to be present with yourself and others?  The demographic for the study is mid-career professionals in the workplace.  The modern workplace can have many forms, so this includes virtual office, office and combination situations.  Participants should not currently be using another monitor-alert wearable.  SF Bay Area participants preferred, for ease of distribution and return of devices.  Although some devices will come from other areas (Tel Aviv, London, Toronto, so far) so there may be some local clusters if enough participants.  If you have your own device but have not started using it yet, you may also be able to participate.  Contact me to discuss.  The commitment is: 6 weeks (5 weeks of device use),  Three times weekly online assessment completion (5 min. each), 15 minute exit interview at completion of study.  Your personal device data remains private to you.

As I kick off, I must just give a shout out to the amazing wearable community (tech, wellness and neuropsychology) for your incredible support for this study by providing knowledge, enthusiasm, contacts and/or products: Misfit, Ring.lyVirgin Pulse, Jawbone, Interaxon, UpRight, Samsung, Spire, OhMiBod, Vibease and WearableWorld.  I look forward to sharing my findings and contributing to the knowledge on Wearables Beyond Utility!

hforbesoste (at) email.fielding.edu

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Wearable World Labs Demo Days Inside Peek

Exciting to  see the coming attractions at Wearable World’s Demo Days.  I stopped in to catch up with Redg Snodgrass before he headed off to set up for coming the Wearable World event in London.  I was glad to hear he will be attending the Web Summit and Machine Summit (IoT) in Dublin next month. There should be more to hear then about the future of wearables and what role Wearable World is taking in it.  Some of the ones that inspired me the most during this demo were LoopD, Interface and miriQ’s EPIC case/accessory.  Some on the software side, others on the hardware, each has the potential to change the way we engage with each other and our own big data.  I hope you enjoy the first of my video series capturing some of the vision of wearables for the future.

Note: Keep in mind, I am just getting the hang of the video side of things, including the editing.  But happy to have great tools!  All footage shot with an iPhone 6.  I intend to incorporate my sketchnotes in later versions.  Stay tuned as I will be blogging on Wearables Beyond Utility (getting social) from the Machine Summit!

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