Tag Archives: wearables

10 Great Gifts for Geek Girls 2016

Still looking for the perfect gift for your geek girl?  Well I have rounded up a 10 of my favorites, including links so you can order online in time for the holidays.  Enjoy!

1. LifePrint 

Okay so it may not be a wellbeing device, other than it will certainly give you a good serotonin kick from the feel good factor of watching pictures of friends and family come to life and sharing them too.  This cool little device is only available at Apple Stores (LifePrint website is sold out).  At a pretty decent price point ($129.95), don’t forget extra stickyback paper ($49.95 for 110 pack).

2. Docking/Charging Station

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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 you have kids, you might want two.) This keeps all devices at the ready for my next adventure, but more importantly keeps me present for my family.  There are many different styles, so rather than take my recommendation, look for one that matches.  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. I recommend picking up a pack of short cables so that you can leave them connected at the ready (Lightning for Apple devices and MicroUSB for back up batteries, wearables and other non-Apple devices)

2. Ring.ly

 

A favorite from last year’s list as a newly launched product.  To Ring.ly, I say, “You’ve come a long way baby.”  They began with a beautiful smart ring and now have a smart bracelet.  More importantly, their notifications are now connected to many more apps, to fit a wide range of needs from rideshare, fitness, dating and more.  Keep that phone in your purse and the ugly black rubber fitness tracker at home.  Control your compulsive phone checking, so you don’t miss the here and now.

4. Cord Keeper

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Innovation can be simple to solve the problem of cable tangle.  If you have ever struggled with the tangled cables of your headphones you will love this beautiful leather solution.  Not to mention if you have any challenges with arthritis or poor circulation, they will simplify access to your cords and cables.  You can get them in time to stuff stockings in a five pack for $22.99

5. Stashbandz

stashbandzLast years bomb was the Purse-in-Boots that didn’t deliver (sorry I ever recommended them).  But this year I found a more universal solution.  To keep your smartphones at the ready, how about a garter or boot liner with a pocket instead.  Stashbandz Boot Cuff let’s you have a pocket in any boot. And for those times when you aren’t wearing boots, but rather a dress with no pockets, try the  Stashbandz Garter Purse.  I have been eyeing both for a while, and think it is time to go for both.  With the phone size increasing, most pockets don’t accommodate it anymore, even some purses don’t. Their unisex waist bands can be a great way to discretely carry phones for men, or even a medical device that needs to be worn.

6. Bellabeats Leaf

It is not so glamorous, but the reality is as women our reproductive health has a huge impact on our wellbeing. It should therefore be part of what we can track and understand.  Bellabeats has not only created a great wearable for women from puberty to menopause, but it is beautiful and something you would enjoy wearing even if it weren’t tracking.

7. Quell Wearable Pain Relief

Chronic pain a problem?  I saw this product before they launched and were still testing.  I have been waiting for it to finally come out, and here it is.  If you have chronic pain, this is an exciting innovative non-invasive approach to pain relief without drugs.

8. Muse: Brain sensing headband

I used these devices in my dissertation study on wearables and presence of mind.  People really loved the experience of learning to meditate in a simple way.  My kids even tried them before I distributed them. I noticed a marked change in their ability to focus and filter out distraction.  Perhaps it was a little competitive mindfulness in who get calm their brain and get more birds in the game.  Nevertheless, an interesting tool for those of us with busy brains.

9. Pwr+ Portable Laptop desk stand

portablelaptopdeskWhether moving ourselves from our seats to fight sitting disease or simply relieving tech-neck, changing the angle at which you work and look at your screen is important.  Many chronic pain issues are either caused by or exacerbated by looking at laptops at the wrong angle.  This one even works in bed if you are having a flair up and need to work from there (or want to watch a movie).

10. Gratitude Journal ~ the original! App

gratitutejournal

I looked at paper journals, and there are several really nice ones.  You can choose those with prompts, inspiring quotes or blank.  Reality struck me that if I was to accomplish a practice of journaling my gratitude it had to be through an app.  If I have learned anything in this last year it is to find my happiness and health in gratitude.  So whatever medium works for you, use it.

Note: If your Geek Girl can wait, my personal favorite is the AppleWatch 2.  Unfortunately, they seem to be hard to come by in time for the holidays.

Have a wonderful holiday season. I hope you find many moments to be present with your loved ones and yourself.  Be kind and practice gratitude and giving, even if all you have to share a smile and laughter.   Enjoy!

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Transition to BE-ing@Work in Practice

apple heartAs a result of my research, I have immense respect for the wearable technologies potential to enhance both physical and cognitive function as well as the current limitations.  Completing a PhD takes a toll on the body and mind. I consider myself lucky, as I have many of the tools available to me to monitor this impact and the recovery.

I was profoundly struck by the irony of what now feels like a near miss, just days prior to graduation. Had it not been for the passive capture of my heart rate on my AppleWatch, I would not have been able to share the data with my doctor electronically when things went sour. He was able to both diagnose and prescribe remotely without delay. The issue resolved, but I am now more aware of the benefit of tracking vital signs passively for prevention. I became my own research subject, yet again.

I have shifted my attention back to the wearables, apps and other innovative tech based interventions that complement our wellbeing goals. The book BE-ing@Work is still in the works. As I collect more stories, best practice and insight from the field, I will be ready to share it. In the meantime, I am sharing my research at a few upcoming events. I will be speaking at Virgin Pulse, Thrive Summit 2016, In Boston next week. I am also booked to speak at the Employer Health and Benefits Congress, in September. I hope to see you there and hear your stories about technology and wellbeing in the workplace.

In the meantime, I am working on sharpening my knowledge in corporate wellbeing strategy by getting certified as a Corporate Wellbeing Specialist through Corporate Health & Wellness Association. There is a lot happening in this space from the HR benefits side that can apply my research and crosses over from social strategy and organization change.

Very soon the BE-ing@Work website will be launched. This will have more exciting details about the specifics of social tech and wellbeing in the workplace, new research projects and more. In the meantime, you will still find that here a lot of other things that I have worked on over the last few chapters.

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Balance ➜ Perspective ➜ Productivity and Wearable Technology

PorchingReturning to flow in writing can be a challenge after a pause away from finger to keyboard.  The unexpected result of a minuscule creature’s bite forced pause and reflection on my dissertation as I recovered from the symptoms of Lyme disease.  Whatever the cause, I welcomed the gift of reflection and perspective breaking my myopic trance of data and theoretical analysis.  Amidst the constant flow of Summer’s visitors, I was able to try out my thesis and analysis on a wide variety of audiences and settings.  This is an attempt at explaining my evolution of thought and practice, to return from the obtuse academic speak to the clarity of language understandable beyond the realm of scholars.

I explored various angles to express the connection with wearables as social technologies. Despite this connection being obvious to me, in my admittedly myopic state, was not so for others. Wearables allow for an intimate and multi-sensory connection to individuals. They provide both incoming (ie. sensors that track heart rate and motion) and outgoing signals (ie. updates, beeps or vibration alerts). This connection creates a greater understanding of how we engage with the systems in which we exist, as well as how to best manage the relationship for sustainability of both individual and the system. For example, stress triggers, sleep patterns and idleness are known physiological challenges that impact psychological behavior.  Wearables provide a access to data that potentially enable users to modify negative patterns of behavior.

The buzz of my research on wearable outcomes  lead curious visitors to me.  I listened and observed the reaction to my Apple Watch (the one device I wore) and the conversations it brought about.  With fascination, I observed my own behavior as to how I engaged with the device and what it meant to me.  I watched and listened as others shared anecdotes of their experiences in correlation with their wearables.  Between the design feedback, health changes and lifestyle impacts I was impressed with how many, how and who was being impacted by wearables. It was another moment of discovery of the data beyond the study data being far more interesting and worthy of exploration. That said, these conversations were not part of my study and hardly academic in nature. They took place on the porch over wine and sunsets. Nonetheless, I became excited again with the possibilities for where it all will lead.

The momentum of excitement over the potential for improved quality of life and health as social technologies mature is taking form.  It is in its infancy, yes, but nonetheless the wave can be felt.  It is only a matter of time, patience and inevitable innovation before the technology will be integrated into our systems seamlessly.  The acceptance of the benefits to global and individual health and wellbeing will eventually outweigh the fear of ingestables and embedded devices, their data and even the systems that utilize the data. Remember, it was not that long ago that we wondered why we would want a smart phone (user penetration nearly at 80% in US, up from 9.6% in 2011).

The physical devices themselves are not necessarily making the change.  The potential change results from the ability to improve wellness through greater accuracy and communication of data using intimate sensors, signals and apps.  Individual wellness improves the system’s ability to be productive.  The challenge of becoming one with the tech ecosystem is understanding the human factor of systems. Social technologies provide a window into how systems interact with one another, as well as a channel for that engagement.  Finding the optimal balance will benefit everyone.  We have a ways to go, but I am hopeful.

I happy to see that I am not alone in my thinking.  The latest issues of Harvard Business Review focus on Rethinking HR and Design Thinking. Outside Magazine’s interview with Jay Blahnik on the Apple Watch provided a rare view into Apple’s integrative approach to wearable and app development aimed at improved quality of life and productivity.  I look forward to fully emerging from writing the final pages of my dissertation to contribute to the discussion.  Until then, this is a brief exercise to get my fingers moving on the keyboard.  The exercise of allowing myself to fully “be” while recovering and enjoying the company of family and friends has provided me the perspective needed to produce the final pieces.

Allowing room for pause and perspective has not only provided clarity in the findings of my research.  It is an integral part of the process for the system to find balance that makes room for the seamless integration in the future.  In presence, being mindful of ourselves and device usage so the benefits outweigh the risks is key.  Placing the Watch in “do not disturb” or even to removing it completely, breathing the fresh air and enjoy the company of an old friend can be a blessed gift of perspective and productivity.  So now back to writing the final chapter of my dissertation and designing the role of CBO (Chief Being/Balance Officer).

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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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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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Why Fascination with Wearables and Presence?

As I sat through the sessions at SxSW on Wearable technologies in March, something clicked.  As a lover of gadgets, I am always eager to try new things if they have a purpose that I can relate to. My passion for social strategy and getting people to engage with each other on a deeper level for mutual benefit had a connection here and it was finally becoming clear.  Something about motivating each other by sharing data, about getting out and getting fit, about being more present in the moment with others was standing out.  I was and am determine to dig deeper.  Call me crazy, but I even changed my doctoral dissertation to focus on finding more answers.

Lola, the UP dogMy first really effective wearable was my Jawbone UP band.  When living in Sweden, my Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) became acute. Some ways to combat S.A.D., like many forms of depression, is movement, fresh air and social interaction.  I used the idle vibration alert to get me through the Winter months.  I trained my service dog to respond to the alert.  So that, even if the vibration wasn’t sufficient enough to modify my behavior, her tugging at my sleeve to urge a walkabout resulted in action.  Once out and about, I became progressively more engaged and present with my work, my research and my interactions with my family and friends.  It was the action that created the presence, but I believe the action would not have occurred without the stimulation of the wearable (and a little tug from Lola).

What about other discreet wearables?  I am most curious about wearables that passively monitor and alert us to behaviors that are detrimental to our being present, mindful in the moment.  So, my journey begins here (well, sort of, the sharing begins here).  I look forward to sharing more with you as it continues.  I will continue to share, and I hope you will too.  Feel free to contact me directly if you have stories, wearables, research that you think would be relevant.  I look forward to hearing about them and from you.

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