Monday, April 6, 2015

Wi Things Activite Swiss Smartwatch Unboxing and Review

2 Weeks ago i got a Wi -Things Activite Smart watch. After some thorough testing, finally here are the unboxing pics and my review.

Before the unboxing, it is interesting to consider that this watch represents a first to market product from the Swiss watch industry defending their market against an all out assault from smart watches from Motorola, Samsung, LG, and next week Apple.

The Swiss watch manufacturers have joined together and created their own "smart watch" standard of hardwards sensors and Bluetooth radios. The design principle for the Swiss movement platform is that it needs to fit into a regular sized watch. Use a standard watch battery to power the device close to a year.  Have 1 dial that shows progress indicator for a metric like steps. Have a silent vibration alarm.

It will be very interesting to see how where the market goes for smart watches vs traditional analog watches which are dead simple elegant utilities.

OK back to the unboxing. I was very excited about finally ordering and getting this product, since it has been out of stock for months since its launch.  Reason for why i have been anticipating the Activite hat it is a very well executed intersection of 2 types of things i geek out on:

- Minimalist Watches with Analog dials (Preferably Swiss Made)
- Fitness / Health tech tracking bracelets , clips, etc ( fitbit, Jawbone Up, misfit shine etc)

The fact that the watch is French Designed and Swiss Made shows from the product and packaging. 


I have tried a number of various fitness bracelets and clips in the past and none of them stuck with me as much as a simple minimalist watch. Mainly due to battery life issues and the need to recharge the bracelet or clip. The Activite beautifully solved this issue, by using a standard watch battery CR3025 which is supposed to last 8 months !!! This is a battery life i can deal with for an object i use every day :)

The companion Healthmate app by Withings for iOS is really well done as well . It works well at pairing with the watch over blue tooth (the low power sipping kind). 

You can control the watch hands directly from the app, which is a cool party trick / way of making sure your watch is calibrated. For travellers this also lets your watch sync to the local timezone , based on the time zone your iPhone detects. The Activite watch hands automatically adjust :) 

Sleep Tracking and Step Tracking work as advertised. 
The app can even take your heart rate measurement, by shinning a light at your fingertip and detecting your pulse.
I also like the fun badges and event cards that healthmate adds into your timeline. 

Next step: 
Buy a Wi Things Smart Scale and start tracking how my activity and sleep levels interact with my weight. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

YotaPhone 2, a Samsung killer , from Russia with Love

YotaPhone 2 is an amazing smartphone, a smartphone designed and made by a Russian company.

A Flagship device that represents the very cutting edge of Russian Consumer Electronics. 
Launched in a unique style, by Putin gifting a YotaPhone 2 phone to the president of China at the APEC conference , before the phone was really available on the market. What a way to be catapulted into the limelight :) 

Check out these YotaPhone website and promo videos. Stylish, these videos remind me of Apple ads for some reason.

This smartphone is the first phone that is notably different in a while !
I just picked one up, so check out the unboxing below.

Some info first. Yotaphone is a Russian smartphone manufacturer and mobile operator :
Yotaphone 2, is unique because it is a phone with 2 screens. 
One screen is a 5 inch color LCD. 
Second one is an e-ink screen.

This is an amazing concept. First i am a fan of the idea of having screens on both sides of a smartphone. See my predictions about the future of smartphone screens.

Making the second screen e ink allows for all sorts of interesting features . 
You can get wayyy longer battery life if you use the e-ink display instead of the color screen.

Also the screen stays always on. The CEO of YotaPhone positions the "Always on" screen in the following terms. Smartphone owners have to unlock their device up to 150 times per day. 
Instead why not have the "Always on" notification just be visible on the outside of the phone at all times. This would save people pointless unlocking of the device. Would keep people grounded in the real world, vs staring into their phones out of nervous habit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Musings on Future of (Mobile) Ad-Tech

What will mobile ads of the future look like ?  Will they look like minority report ads seen above ?

This is a HUUGE growth opportunity for mobile ad tech, that can figure out how to appeal to brand marketers. Someone just needs to figure out how to get brand advertisers to start spending more on digital and mobile. 

Here is a wild and crazy idea at how to crack this:
Brand marketers care about depth of engagement because they care about connecting with people emotionally. So to do that mobile ad units need to prove to advertisers that they are much more engaging than a fraction of a second glance at a tiny banner on a pocket sized screen. To prove this to brand marketers will requires new engagement metrics, that will allow us to price ad units in a new way.

Snapchat has shown interesting innovation in this direction. Snapchat's mobile advertising requires the user to maintain contact with an iPhone or Android screen with one of their fingers for the video ad to play, if contact is broken the "snapchat"/ video stops playing. This is in essence a metric of engagement between the user and the ad. Something that up until now we didnt really have (except for the explicit click). Currently Snapchat is selling ad packages against this novel ad unit with a $750,000 minimum trial fee

This could point to an interesting direction for how next generation mobile ad networks should approach tapping into brand marketing dollars. The trick is to price ads by not only impression account but by TRUE engagement metrics.

What if ?

 What if mobile ad SDK's could track , really track, how engaged users were. By using the "selfie camera" on smartphones,  face detection / gaze detection AD-SDK's could tell for how long and how strongly a user was engaged with each ad. They could also target ads to male/ female by dynamically determining the sex of the user. 

This would fix one of the key issues with CPM pricing of mobile ads today:
Pricing is not as performance oriented as it seems. Today we price an impression of an auto play video ad, that had the sound off and the user was facing away from their screen the same amount as a video ad play where the user's eyes were locked on the video for 30 seconds and audio was playing. Realistically they represent entirely different levels of engagement and thus should be priced entirely different. 

Today we don't have metrics / ad tech in place inside the ad SDK's to be able to differentiate wasted ad units vs truly engaging ad units. It can be done, by adding in camera, face detection/gaze detection library into an existing mobile ad sdk's . But should it be done ? Say we did, and the added transparency appealed to brand marketers who could now pay big premiums for highly targeted and highly engaging ad units to reach their customers . Would the trade off on user privacy be worth it ? Or would people categorically reject it ? 

With patents about gaze detection being awarded to apple ... maybe this is not as far fetched as it seems ? Maybe minority report style ads are just around the corner ?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Easter Egg : Game inside "unable to connect to internet" Chrome tab

Check out this awesome Easter Egg inside Chrome for Mac.  

When your browser cant reach the internet you get an error message in your tab.
Awhile ago Chrome started using a pixel art dinosaur icon as part of that error message.

Now, if you hit [SPACE BAR] while in a "can not connect to internet" tab inside Chrome on OS X the dinosaur will jump and start running. 

There is an old school style game inside the chrome tab !!! Its like flappy bird. There is one button for jump, and the whole goal is to keep the dinosaur running by jumping over the cactus obstacles.

Enjoy :) 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Android 5.0 Lollipop on my Nexus . Finally.

I carry an iPhone 6 and Nexus 5 with me everywhere , everyday. 
It is no contest between a 6th generation apple device, and a 5th generation Nexus /  Android OS.
The 6th Gen device is by far more refined, polished, zippier , all around better.

But all of this changes today for me.  I just (or ed) installed Android Lollipop onto my Nexus 5

And all of my data did not get blown away :) Thanks to the instructions on this blog: 

Android Lollipop with its Material Design creates an entirely different feel. A much better and consistent design language brings the whole OS together into something much more cohesive than Kit Kat.

The "Card" paradigm has been made ubiquitous for the task manager and the app tray.
Notifications work like cards as well. The color scheme has shifted to a eggshell white/grey background color theme.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Taking a stroll through Yosemite the latest Mac OSX 10.10

I just got back from vacation, and am delighted to find the large number of new and shiny software from apple for me to play with now that i am back. 

I just installed OS X 10.10 Yosemite developer beta preview and will be test driving it on my MAcbook Pro 13 '' . Stay tuned for some thoughts and reactions on the redesigned OS.

So far i like the consistency between iOS and Yosemite. 

Still have to make the jump to iOS 8 developer preview.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Horizon MiniPak : Alternative Energy (fuel cell) for your smartphone

Im getting ready for a trip to the Phillipines for a couple of weeks. My gf and i are planning to go to some small islands between Palawan and Coron. No electricity type of area. But i still want power for my phone and camera. 
In other words an excellent chance to do some ForTechiesOnly gadget research ;) 

I took a trip to REI . After looking into several solar powered options. A Solio , a PowerMonkey , and a few other options i ended up with a Horizon MiniPak

Which is a handheld USB battery charged via a Hydrogen Fuel Cell reactor !!

Dont worry ive never heard of it either until i saw it. But consumer fuel cell tech is something i have been reading about for awhile (first came across in my grandfathers electro chemistry text books) , but until now have not come face to face with this tech.  Of course i couldn't pass up trying it out. So i got one. And at a great price. Full price these things cost $149.  and each additional hydrostick costs $29 (i got one for $5).

After some Googling i found out that Horizon Fuel Cell the company bills itself as the worlds largest provider of hydrogen fuel cells from large to small ones.

What i got for my trip to the Phillipines was a Horizon Minipak. Its a smallish handheld USB charger, powered from Hydrogen fuel cells. Each Hydrostick (a fat battery filled with hydrogen in a stable hydride (metal + hydrogen) can hold up to 2 charges of a smartphone. The buy product is heat and water vapor. 

The coolest part is that you can get a refill station to recharge the hydrostick batteries. If i like this experience for my trip i may consider making the investment, but to warrant the $299 investment i am going to be really impressed with this ... 

There is also another version for hikers that is marketed as more rugged, and comes with bigger cartridges.  Its called the Brunton Hydrogen REactor. Check out to see it. called it vaporware in this post right here, but now you can buy them in REI.

Not sure yet if these things will catch on , but definitely an interesting option to try out. stay tuned for reports on how my experience with the Horizon MiniPak turns out.