Sunday, June 16, 2013

My "wearable computer" set up, June 2013

I don't (yet) have a Google Glass, but I wear computers, and it's great. Currently I have:
- Android phone (Nexus 4, if you must know)
- Pebble wristwatch
- LG Tone headphones
- Fitbit Ultra (no longer made; replaced by the Fitbit One)

The Fitbit counts my steps, and that's all. The neat thing about that is that I can compare days.
I know what it's like when my friend tells me she had an 8000-step day.
I know dancing for a couple hours is usually a good 10k steps at least.
I know that my 30k-step day in Dublin was seriously a lot of walking.
I haven't figured out why it's useful to know these things. Just cool.

The Android/Pebble combo gives me texts on my wrist. This is cool. I've received, understood, and dismissed a message on a bike. Yes, you can do this safely. I've received, understood, and dismissed a message in mid sentence. Yes, you can do this politely. (trust me; your conversational partner will mind much less than if you get your phone out and fiddle with it.)

Is it good that you can do these things? Good question.

But the Android/Pebble/Tone combo! This is the coolest part. Connect everything and start my music app, and then I can start/stop/forward/back the music from either my Pebble or the main Tone hardware. AND I can see the title of the currently playing song on my Pebble. I can almost-fully control my music on my bike. (yes, I can do this safely.)

The fact that it used to take ~25 seconds to start listening to music (unwind headphones, plug in, etc), and it now takes 3, means I listen to a lot more music. The fact that I can see the song playing means I remember it a lot better.

Is it good that I am listening to more music? Good question. But as a Real Actual DJ, who's constantly trying to take in new music, I appreciate it.

What do I take from this? Not a lot, because it's just me. Nevertheless:
- reducing the time it takes to do something really does make me do it more.
- I have no idea if there are negative effects from, say, the fact that I rarely walk more than 5 minutes in silence anymore. I have no idea how to measure this.
- the form factor has to be good and sort of invisible, but it doesn't have to be all that invisible, if there's clear benefit. (the Tone is a new one; it's "around-the-neck" style, and noticeable but usually not problematic.)
- we have enough ways to control music.


  1. "- I have no idea if there are negative effects from, say, the fact that I rarely walk more than 5 minutes in silence anymore. I have no idea how to measure this."

    This line caught my brain a bit. I often pause for a second as I head out the door to decide if I should transit with or without headphones. I weigh several factors (time it takes to set up the headphones, whether I have interesting music/podcasts to listen to, etc), but it's not uncommon that the deciding factor is my own need to be tuned in/tuned out. Regardless of what sounds I've got going, when I wear headphones I feel as though I'm shutting out the rest of the world. On any given day, that can be a good or a bad thing.

    I wonder if you could try to measure 'processing time'? By processing time, I mean 'amount of the day you have to just put your brain on *spin cycle* and let the laundry slosh around.' Personally, I pretty much always have at least an hour of processing time on my daily run — but many days that hour is all that I get. Sometimes I wish I had more. When I walk/longboard/bike without headphone I get myself some more 'processing time'.

    If 'processing time' is actually a thing (do you have processing time?), then maybe you could try to track your own 'processing time', headphone-usage, and end of day satisfaction/happiness/serenity/whatever. See if you get some sort of positive or negative effect from non-headphone time? I know I qualitatively feel like I do have a better day if I have some non-headphone time, but I can't give you numbers to back that up.

    Just some hot air that popped into my mind after reading your post.

    1. Good point. That's what I was trying to get at. Is there value in the sloshing around time? Am I depriving myself of it? It feels like it sometimes.

      I'm going to throw in a little bit of pop-neurobabble and wonder if this is related to the Default Network. (which is itself not universally accepted, as the article says.) Don't think it matters- there could be value in sloshing around even without a certain named network in the brain- but it would give the idea a little credibility (both in my mind and in others') if so.

      Also, it'd be neat to correlate that with, say, some other measure of stress. Imagine something telling you, "you haven't sloshed for 4 hours, which may be why you're feeling stressed now."