Over the past fifteen months I have been busy hacking my car, sketching & designing wristwatches/activity monitors/wearable technology, imagining new communication patterns along with experimenting in the wood shop. A lot has been happening, but I’ll expand upon this in further entries.
I was elated last year when I received my Pebble smart watch. The future was here! Today! But it wasn’t. The Pebble is a tremendous achievement from a great team. They started out with a vision and their KickStarter campaign fueled incredible interest in their platform & monetary validation of their thesis. Having a focused device on your wrist allows a user to regain control from their “smart” devices.
Like most connected emerging technology lovers, I am no stranger to wearable technology/activity monitors. The Pebble actualizes many of the promises of everything we’ve been told or imagined. No more pulling out your phone 100 times a day to look at emails, text messages, notifications, ding’s or vibrations. Control your music on your iPod, iPad, SONOS, etc remotely all from a new wave retro watch that makes your digital life a little cushier. It’s amazing! I drank and handed out paper cups of the Kool-Aid to anyone who would listen.
In the last four years, I have had three FitBits, four FuelBands (more on this later), an Apple Nano 6th Generation in the famed Mimo LunaTik watchband (another KickStarter revolution), and the Pebble. Over the years, countless other smart devices have been on my person or in my daily bag: laptops, flip phones, pagers, Palm Pilots, MP3 players (my first was a 32mb Diamond Rio), iPods, smartphones, iPads, Kindles, Moleskins 🙂 …
Each came with a promise and problem to solve. And many of these products did solve my prescribed problems. With each device, we were more connected, more enabled to forget, more encumbered by information. And I relished it. In fact I still do. But through these all of these wearable products and experiences I have not found clarity as to how my life is markedly better. I cannot reason with my parents or unconnected friends outside of my tech bubble why having all of these devices on my person all at the same time makes my life easier.
I can argue that one or two of these devices at a given time is useful. They each have their purpose, but I do not believe there is one tool, aside from the iPhone, that solves all of these “new problems”. Did I take enough steps today? How many calories did I actually burn? What was my best sleep cycle this past week? When exactly was the last time I played TK421 in Words with Friends? Burning questions that need to be solved. right. now. Or at least deserve my attention.
I sold my Pebble last week on Amazon. Which somewhat unsurprisingly was exactly what I expected. An easy transaction handled perfectly in the background of everyday life. To this day, eBay doesn’t seem to understand that nuance. I sold it because I don’t want to immediately know who is calling, or sending me an alert, or a nudge poke shakedown for not making a move in the last five minutes on Words with Friends! I believe that someone will solve the wearable Dick Tracy phone watch problem. It may certainly be Apple or Google/Samsung, or even (hopefully) Pebble.
But I also believe that sometimes we really don’t need to be constantly interrupted by an alert or be weighed down with setting up complex rules to manage all of our devices, alerts, and notifications. I believe we are in need of a market correction. Maybe not a volatile 60 point stock market drop style correction, but a personal correction. That starts with looking at all of these devices we have and really understanding that less is really more.
Reconnect with your surroundings. Emails, text messages, alerts, and yes, even TK421 can wait.