TW Reads: Wearables

A collection of articles by Ben Hammersley, Ben Evans and others about the bigger ideas around wearable devices.

Whatever kind of device Apple will or will not introduce at their keynote today, we always like to take the opportunity to look beyond the immediate products and specs and think about the longer term implications. Here are some of the smartest reflections on wearables and this emerging category of devices that we have read this year so far.

The Third Wave of Computing

The point isn’t the gadget: it’s the combination of the intimacy of a device that is always with us and that only we use, with the power of cloud-based processing and storage

At the beginning of the year, Ben Hammersley provided a good overview of the current state of wearables including positive and negative future scenarios, Apple rumors, a categorization into introspective (like step counting) and extrospective (like small cameras) and other hints at the discussions around wearables.

Link: Wearables: the third wave of computing

Meet the Godfather of Wearables

It all started with beavers.

Before looking at the future of wearables, it’s always good to learn about their past. 30 years ago, Alex Pentland combined computer- and social sciences to use computers to observe human behaviors. In 1986, he inaugurated the Wearable Computing Project at MIT. It was the “first place dedicated exclusively to the creation of wearables.”

Link: Meet the godfather of wearables | The Verge

How to make Wearables stick

While the functionality of devices may drive initial sales, to create long-term value they have to be used long-term and drive healthy behavior change in users.

We’ve been arguing for a long time that the biggest challenge for companies in the quantified self category is long-term engagement of their customers with their devices. Michael A.M. Davies explains how habit formation, social motivation, and goal reinforcement are key for behavior change and thus continuous motivation. If companies don’t get this right, (introspective) wearables will be mostly know as the electronic waste we all have laying around.

Link: How to make wearables stick: Use them to change human behavior | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Michael A. M. Davies, Endeavour Partners

Cards, Code and Wearables

The company most likely to kill native apps is Apple.

Wearables mostly can’t exist on their own. They need to be tethered to a device, usually a smartphone to connect to the internet. Ben Evans looks at Android Wear and the rumors around Apple’s Healthbook to think about how apps and streams and screens will work together in the near future.

Link: Cards, code and wearables — Benedict Evans

Sensors and Sensitivity

Putting sensors elsewhere, into objects we come into contact with at certain times or in certain situations, contextualizes them — allowing use-cases to be more targeted and, as a result, more purposeful — and potentially more powerful.

With the hype around wearables, we tend to forget that we can put sensors into other objects around us. Natasha Lomas makes the case for these kinds of anti-wearables and gives some examples. Like a car seat that tracks our pulse and stress levels. Using sensors in this way makes for much more focused use-cases that serve specific purposes, instead of just tracking some flippant lifestyle metrics. Maybe we should think more about the objects we can put sensors in instead of all the sensors we can put on.

Link: Sensors And Sensitivity | TechCrunch

What we read this week (12 Oct)

This week we read about Google’s neural network research, Nokia’s maps, “internet addiction,” K-pop, and the gendered side of the Quantified Self.

Quotes of the week

We often think we’ve solved a problem when we’ve merely come up with good answer to the wrong question.

Aza Raskin

Both coffee and naps can improve mood; combined they’re magical.

Vanessa Gregory

Articles of the week

  • Technology Review: Google Puts Its Virtual Brain Technology to Work
    Elaborating on the story of a couple months back, in which Google’s neural network of 16,000 computers succeeded in recognizing cats on YouTube, this article gives more insight into how the operation works, what else it’s capable of, and how this variety of AI is being applied in a commercial context.
  • The Atlantic: The Forgotten Mapmaker: Nokia Has Better Maps Than Apple and Maybe Even Google
    While jokes about maps in iOS 6 abound, The Atlantic addresses the “third horse” in the tech company maps race, Nokia, and points out just how great of an asset these maps could be.
  • New Yorker: Factory Girls
    This is a brilliant piece of journalism on the making of the K-pop phenomenon and its widespread cultural influence. Along the way, it nicely puts “Gangnam Style” into context. A long, but very worthwhile read.
  • Mindhacker: Why there is no such thing as internet addiction
    Internet addiction, Vaughan Bell argues, is logically impossible. His fundamental argument: “‘Internet addiction’ researchers conceive of the internet as if it were a set of activities when, in fact, it’s a medium for communication. […] You can be no more addicted to the internet than you can to language or radio waves.”
  • danah boyd: omg girls’ bodies are fascinating: embracing the gendered side of quantified self
    A perceptive piece on monitoring hormonal cycles, and our attitudes toward gendered applications for technology. An avid self-quantifier, Danah explains how cultural norms and her own prejudices prevented her from studying this aspect of her body’s behavior earlier on, and how enlightening her findings were once she started.

What we read this week (7 Sep)

On a 5-year-old digital agency’s learnings, a software company’s unusual structure and philosophy, what the Quantified Self has to do with Robert Pattinson, big data and the “digital nervous system,” and the complicated relationship between waste and creativity.

Quote of the week

It sure is hard to see your ideas as hypotheses to be tested, instead of the utterly genius solutions that you’re so certain they are.

Tim Malbon

Articles of the week

An update on the Quantified Self

In this article, we check up on the current goings-on in the realm of QS.

A few months back, we put together a series of blogposts on the Quantified Self. We’ve had a look around at what’s been happening in the QS field in the meantime, and have put together this update, with some interesting new apps, products and articles.

Apps and gadgets

TenXer is a personal assistant startup, founded by Jeff Ma, who as it happens was a member of the MIT Blackjack Team. It aims to increase your productivity at work by helping you track your progress in relation to set goals. RescueTime, a competitor, operates under a similar concept, monitoring your computer activity to give you feedback on how you’re spending your time.

Alohar is a platform that includes a software development kit for Android and iPhone, and services that gather detailed data on location (how many times you’ve been there, how often you usually stay) and movement. Applications for this information could be both QS-related and commercial.

HealthyShare is the product of a cooperation between Facebook and General Electric. Just in time for the Olympics, the two giants bond for a piece of the QS cake, in the form of an app that provides the user with a selection of Olympian-sponsored challenges to promote good health.

Lift is an iPhone app designed to help people achieve any kind of goal, big or small. This startup with the rather ambitious desire to “eliminate willpower as a factor in achieving goals” has been backed by Twitter’s founders and is set to launch in August 2012.

Samsung S Health, an app for the Galaxy S III phone, allows users to track their weight, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Nike and Microsoft have come out with Nike+ Kinect Training, an exercise program for Xbox 360. Combining two hugely popular platforms, this could be big.

The Garmin Swim watch (article in German) is designed for swimmers to keep track of their exercise.

Articles

Mashable: Wearable Tech
An infographic giving a helpful overview of various kinds of wearable gadgetry, some of which are QS-related.

The Atlantic: The Measured Man
A detailed and extensive article about the oft-mentioned Larry Smarr, who diagnosed his own case of Crohn’s disease through self-quantification, and who goes to unusual lengths to chart his own health.

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Biohackers’ mining their own bodies’ data
Dave Asprey is a famous and extreme believer in QS and body-hacking. This article documents the measures he takes to control his own body, discusses the motives behind bodyhacking and explores associated risks.

What we read this week (25 May)

Our reads this week: whether Facebook can be successful in the long term, how the mobile internet affects our approach to healthcare, what companies should focus on when recruiting, a new community for maker-minded kids, and insights on businesses operating at the intersection between technology and culture.

Quote of the week

The Singularity has always sounded to me like a secular version of the Rapture. It seems to fit very neatly into that same God-shaped hole.

William Gibson

Articles of the week

  • Bud Caddell: Emerging Bets at the Intersection of Technology & Culture
    Bud Caddell from Deutsch LA took his team of innovation strategists to SXSW this year to study all the startups launching there. They aggregated all their insights and put them into this report. It’s a great overview about current trends in the US startup world and what marketers can learn from them.
  • Fred Wilson: Culture and Fit
    Fred Wilson, head of Union Square Ventures, discusses some common mistakes made in companies’ hiring processes, and where the focus should really lie: culture and fit should be prized above talent and renown.
  • Technology Review: The Facebook Fallacy
    Michael Wolff explains how Facebook is not only on course to go bust, but will take the rest of the ad-supported Web with it. A controversial and compelling case on the state of affairs of ad-based online business, and why current methods cannot be successful in the long run.
  • O’Reilly Radar: Parsing a new Pew report: 3 ways the Internet is shaping healthcare
    Pew Internet and Life Project recently coducted a survey on how people inform themselves about health. Alex Howard breaks down the study’s findings into three key trends: Quantified Self, participatory medicine and what he calls the ‘new digital divide.’ Mobile health data, it seems, is particularly helpful, but in the hands of people who aren’t as likely to need it. The article prompts some interesting questions about how we could make this kind of information more accessible.
  • New York Times: Disruptions: A Beacon to Silicon Valley, From a Start-Up for Children
    Since our conversation with Zach last November, we have been eagerly awaiting the public appearance of his new venture. DIY is here and it is shaping up to be an interesting community for kids who make things. The kids post pictures of their work online, and can find inspiration in users’ projects, from melted crayon paintings to soda bottle rockets. It’s nice to see the Internet evolving in a way that appeals to a different age group.

What we read this week (18 May)

This week’s reads: Quantified Self tools for brain activity, shirts that make you work harder, microloans and the Internet, the future of the digital arts, innovation explained in terms of evolution, and the impact of the Internet and social media on society.

Quotes of the week

Privacy is intrinsic to democracy; it is necessary for discourse to happen.

Lane DeNicola, on The Digital Human

I interface from a database, and my database is in cyberspace, so I’m interactive, I’m hyperactive, and from time to time, I’m radioactive.

George Carlin

Articles of the week

  • The Creators Project: Are Brands The New Medicis?
    The Creators Project is opening up a discussion about the digital arts, and whether the ‘cross-pollination between art and advertising’ can be profitable. An interesting exploration of the influence of branded projects on the evolution of new branches of art, and the relationship between brand and artist.
  • Matt Webb: FuelBand for alpha waves
    In this post, Matt Webb, co-founder of BERG, outlines his vision for a product that does for brain activity what the Nike FuelBand does for exercise – a brilliant line of thought.
  • Boston.com: Northeastern students create a shirt that knows when you’re slacking off on your workout
    As body sensors become more and more ubiquitous, we see them integrated in more day to day products and in some highly specialized niches. In this case, we see a prototype for a shirt that’s packed with sensors to monitor your body (heart rate and all) for further analysis. While for now this is aimed at elite athletes and other gym rats, we expect to see the technology trickle down to more consumer grade goods quite soon.
  • BrainJuicer: Insects, Innovation and Instagram
    For companies, ‘adapt or die’ is one of the guiding principles of the digital age. But since innovation is ‘really, really hard,’ suggesting adaptation is much easier said than done, as is illustrated here by way of bug-related metaphor.
  • Kiva: Annual Report
    Kiva is an organization that enables peer-to-peer lending. Users can give microloans to individuals and small businesses, see what they’ve helped to support, and finally get paid back. The annual report gives a great deal of insight into the nature of the market that Kiva is working in, and what can be achieved through this clever use of Internet manpower.

Also interesting: Aleks Krotoski is currently running a seven-part series on BBC Radio 4 called The Digital Human, addressing the impact of the Internet on society and human behavior. Three episodes are up online so far, and are well worth a listen.

Event: Digitale Selbstvermessung – Leben nach Maß?

Am 11./12. Mai veranstalten wir gemeinsam mit der Hybrid Plattform ein Event rund um die Themen Quantified Self und Personal Analytics. Das Programm steht, die Anmeldung läuft.

Note: As this event will be held predominantly in Germany, we’ll keep the announcement in German, too. For a brief summary, see the end of the post.

Wie bereits angekündigt laden Third Wave und Hybrid Plattform ein zum Event Digitale Selbstvermessung:

Details

11.05.2012, 14:00–18:00 12.05.2012, 10:30–14:30

Beschreibung

Third Wave, Agentur für digitale Strategien, und die Hybrid Plattform, Ort für transdisziplinäre Projekte der UdK Berlin und TU Berlin, veranstalten am 11. und 12. Mai 2012 ein Symposium mit anschließenden Workshops zum Thema Mensch und Datensammlung in den EIT ICT Labs in Berlin.

Mit jedem verkauften Smartphone gewinnt die Thematik der Selbstvermessung und Selbsterfassung an Relevanz und an Brisanz. Es handelt sich dabei um die eigenständige Erhebung und den Vergleich von Zahlen um Körper-, Gesundheits- und Lebensdaten mit Hilfe von digitalen Geräten. Die Anhänger der Quantified Self-Bewegung sind davon überzeugt, dass die Analyse von humanen Daten wie Schlafzeiten, Blutdruck usw. jedem Einzelnen hilft, sein Leben zu verbessern. Die weit verbreitete Bewegung hat weitreichende Auswirkungen, und zwar nicht nur auf den Einzelnen.

Das Symposium am ersten sowie Workshops am zweiten Veranstaltungstag beleuchten die Thematik Mensch und Datensammlung aus den unterschiedlichsten Blickwinkeln: Welche Daten kann man sammeln und was ist daran ablesbar? Was passiert mit den Daten? Welche gesellschaftlichen und wirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen hat das Sammeln der Daten? Welche Entwicklungen dieser Technologie zeichnen sich ab? Welche Wissenschaften werden in welcher Tiefe eingebunden?

Diese Fragen möchte die Veranstaltung gewohnt transdisziplinär und hybrid angehen, um durch die produktive Kollisionen neue Erkenntnisse für unsere Zukunft abzuleiten.

Programm

Das Programm wird aus heutiger Sicht wie folgt aussehen, Änderungen und Ergänzungen sind noch möglich:

Freitag, 11.05.2012, 14.00-18.00

  • 14:00-14.05 Begrüßung durch Christoph Gengnagel, UdK Berlin
  • 14.05-14.10 Begrüßung durch EIT ICT Labs
  • 14.15-14.35 Johannes Kleske, Third Wave, Einführung in QS und Feedback Loops
  • 14.50-15.10 Kora Kimpel, Professor UdK Berlin
  • 15.25-15.45 Florian Schuhmacher, Münchner QS-Gründer
  • 16.00-16.20 Yasmina Haryono, Fjord, Datenvisualisierung, Personal Analytics
  • 16.35-16.55 Prof. Sebastian Möller, Deutsche Telekom Laboratories und TU Berlin, Quantified Self in HCI: Models and Implications
  • 17.10-17.30 Daniela Kuka, WiMi UdK Berlin

Samstag, 12.5.2012, 10.30-14.30

  • 10.30-10.45 Begrüßung/Vorstellung der Workshops
  • 10.45-11.15 Awareness Talk von Ahmet Acar
  • 11.15-12.45 Workshops Runde 1
  • 12.45-13.00 Pause
  • 13.00-14.30 Workshops Runde 2
  • 14.30-15.00 kurze Präsentation der Ergebnisse/Abschlussrunde/Feedbackrunde

Workshops geben voraussichtlich: Daniela Kuka, Moritz Greiner-Petter, Wolfgang Spahn, detaillierte Beschreibungen der Workshops finden Sie im Anmeldeformular.

Teilnahme & Anmeldung

Die Teilnahme ist kostenlos, die Anzahl der Teilnehmer ist auf 100 begrenzt (Link zum Anmeldeformular).

Für einige der Workshops benötigen die Teilnehmer Laptops und/oder Verbrauchsmaterialien. Diese können mit vorbestellt werden; die Bestellung ist verbindlich und muss vor Ort bar bezahlt werden.

Presse & Medienvertreter

Für Journalisten haben wir begrenzt zusätzliche Plätze zu Verfügung. Auch hier erfolgt die Anmeldung über das Anmeldeformular – am Ende des Formulars finden sich die relevanten Formfelder. Für Interviewanfragen richten Sie sich gerne jederzeit an Peter Bihr, Geschäftsführer von Third Wave, oder Marguerite Joly, UdK-Projektkoordinatorin der Hybrid Plattform.

English summary: Together with Hybrid Plattform, we organize a two day event around the idea of the quantified self, self-tracking and personal analytics. It’s a two day event, held predominently in German, in Berlin on May 11/12 with one half day of talks and one half day of hands-on workshops.

The Essentials – Our best blog articles

These are our favorite articles from our blog. If you want to know more about us and the topics we’re interested in, this is a good place to start.

Our Publications

Our Thinking (Out Loud)

You want to dig deeper? These articles will give you a good insight into our thinking:

The History of Our Company

We’ve been writing notes to reflect on our work. Combined, they tell the story of our company.

to be continued

Event: Digitale Selbstvermessung – Leben nach Maß?

Together with Hybrid Plattform, we organize an event around the idea of the Quantified Self: “Digitale Selbstvermessung – Leben nach Maß?” The event will be held 11/12 May 2012 in Berlin.

Gemeinsam mit der Hybrid Plattform, dem Ort für transdisziplinäre Projekte der TU Berlin und UdK Berlin, veranstalten wir am 11. und 12. Mai 2012 ein Symposium mit anschließenden Workshops zum Thema Mensch und Datensammlung in den EIT ICT Labs in Berlin.

Aus der Ankündigung der Hybrid Plattform:

Mit jedem verkauften Smartphone gewinnt die Thematik der Selbstvermessung und Selbsterfassung an Relevanz und an Brisanz. Es handelt sich dabei um die eigenständige Erhebung und den Vergleich von Zahlen um Körper-, Gesundheits- und Lebensdaten mit Hilfe von digitalen Geräten. Die Anhänger der Quantified Self-Bewegung sind davon überzeugt, dass die Analyse von humanen Daten wie Schlafzeiten, Blutdruck usw. jedem Einzelnen hilft, sein Leben zu verbessern. Die weit verbreitete Bewegung hat weitreichende Auswirkungen, und zwar nicht nur auf den Einzelnen.

Das Symposium am ersten sowie Workshops am zweiten Veranstaltungstag beleuchten die Thematik Mensch und Datensammlung aus den unterschiedlichsten Blickwinkeln: Welche Daten kann man sammeln und was ist daran ablesbar? Was passiert mit den Daten? Welche gesellschaftlichen und wirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen hat das Sammeln der Daten? Welche Entwicklungen dieser Technologie zeichnen sich ab? Welche humanen Wissenschaften werden in welcher Tiefe eingebunden?

Diese Fragen möchte die Veranstaltung gewohnt transdisziplinär und hybrid angehen, um durch die produktive Kollisionen neue Erkenntnisse für unsere Zukunft abzuleiten.

Wenn wir Sie auf dem Laufenden halten sollen, können Sie sich hier eintragen. Wir behandeln alle Daten vertraulich und nutzen sie ausschließlich, um weitere Hinweise direkt zu dieser Veranstaltung zu senden.

Hybrid Symposium Digitale Selbstvermessung

  • Datum: 11.05.2012 14:00–18:00
    12.05.2012 10:30–14:30
  • Location: Co-location Center, EIT ICT Labs, Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, 10587 Berlin Die Teilnahme ist gratis.
  • Konferenzsprache: deutsch

Please note that the event will be held predominantly in German, thus the German-only announcement. If you don’t speak German but would like to attend, feel free to drop me a line and we’ll see what we can do.

Week 74

Last week we released a forecast report, a glimpse into the near future. Also, we traveled a fair bit: Igor went to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Johannes spent some days in London, Igor and Peter did a presentation in Münster.

A glimpse into the future

Last Tuesday, we released the results of a little side-project of ours, an exercise in forecasting: A glimpse into the near future, subtitled “Insights, Expectations & Hopes for the next 3-5 years”. The idea was simple. We’d ask a few of our smartest friends what they a) expect and b) hope to happen over the next few years. The result is maybe the longest blog post we’ve ever written, and certainly the most fun one I had to write in a long time.

If you’re into embedding image-rich presentations, we have something for you too. We put more or less the whole blogpost as slides on Slideshare.

Again, thanks to the participants, I hope you all feel well represented!

Travel & workshops

Igor briefly swung by Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. While the fair itself isn’t all that exciting, more and more companies use this conference for their big mobile announcements. Well worth the trip. The day after, Igor and I went to Münster to deliver a final presentation for a client. I’ve really come to relish those wrap-ups: It just feels good to come full circle on a project, and to see the progress between start and finish.

Meanwhile, Johannes was in London for a speech at Ogilvy where he talked about the strategy process we work with most of the time. It has to a big part been informed by our experiences working with and for larger agencies, and shows what we think can be done better. We’ve been reflecting about this quite a bit recently and Johannes will cover some of that in his week note next week. And of course, while he was in London, he scooped up some nice freshly roasted beans by Has Bean, one of our favorite roasters.

Event updates

Preparations for Next12, Ignite Berlin and our as-of-yet unnamed Quantified Self event with Hybrid Plattform are coming along well. For the latter two, feel free to signal your interest on the respective websites. More updates on all three soon.