It was more than one year after I backed the project on Kickstarter when my Pebble finally arrived from Singapore. In case you haven’t heard of Pebble: it’s basically one of the first smart-watches and one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all times. So an early adopter toy. It was exciting enough to produce a little unboxing video:
So what does it do and how does it play out after a few weeks? Pebble has an “e paper” display what means the time is always visible and the battery lasts forever. A big innovation. Last week I met a software engineer who wore some Sony watch which had a “standard” display maning that he had to press a button to turn it on and display the time. Not so useful. So how does the e paper display perform? Pretty good actually. Not an impressing resolution but it’s ok, depending on what is displayed on the screen of course (like the Kindle). It’s also a backlit display so together with the motion sensor I don’t have to push any button to check the time when it’s dark outside (or inside). Nice little feature. Especially as the watchfaces are really a fun component with a lot of user generated content available.
But what besides time. What I really use frequently when walking around or commuting listening to music is skipping songs. It’s only a little help but not having to pull the phone out of the pocket every time is really useful. If there would only be a way to change volume or actually select songs … I have my Pebble connected to my iPhone and so every call I get makes the watch vibrate gently (it doesn’t have its own speaker) and displays the number or name (if it’s in your address book). It might depend on your usage scenarios but I did have quite a few situations in the past when I overheard my phone waling through the city or having it in a corner vibrating silently. You don’t miss out the watch.
What also works well for the alarm-clock, I tried it several times and always woke up (phew). The first sentences of iMessages/SMS are displayed as well as for push emails including the name (or number) of the person writing you. Again not a big deal but a nice little helper.
The whole software needs more time and work though: several emails at the same time? Currently no chance to scan all of them, Pebble only remembers the last one. And that’s pretty much it so far. The lack of additional apps is quite frankly disappointing. Specifically as the watch clearly shows the potential. Which I think is pretty big: It’s all just a little bit easier and quicker than with a device sitting in your pocket. Which is a good argument for success. Would I recommend to buy it? If you wanted to get a new watch anyway and if you like the design it might be worth getting it for that reason alone. It’s not too expensive and the battery live is really good – I had to charge it once so far (after the first 2 weeks I think). If you want a fully fleshed smart-watch don’t, it might disappoint you. But to watch a new category of devices develop with every upgrade you download it’s quite exciting.
(And if you have an Android phone – I just pulled out my old Nexus S – or a jailbroken iPhone it’s a plus as the openness of the OS already allows more interaction between phone and watch)
Update 08.05.2013: Last night Runkeeper announced and update to their popular app connecting it to Pebble as you’re out on the run. I gave it a try (sore legs today!) and it’s pretty neat. As soon as you start running Pebble automatically displays speed/pace, time and distance. But although my Runkeeper app is configured to display kilometers Pebble displayed miles. Needs a little bugfixing. Here is the official announcement video:
If you’re interested in gaming culture you probably have seen Indie Game: The Movie a long time ago. If you haven’t and appreciate passionate nerdy developers working on games they love and crossing the border to art you should consider having a look. It’s fairly affordable and available in a DRM free format. Here is a trailer:
One of the games you see in the trailer is Fez and in the movie it’s not clear if Phil Fish will ever finish it. He actually did and it was released for Xbox a year ago. Sadly I don’t have one. So I was quite excited reading this morning that Fez will be available on gog.com from May 1st this year. You get it for $8.99 as a pre-order – was a no-brainer for me!
Great idea! At least if it’s not some kind of sexist bullshit.
What a nice creative ad for Coca-Cola.FM webradio in Brazil. And so much better than the usual QR code madness.
Don’t hold back guys – I know it has some silliness attached to it queuing for a new iPhone. Specifically after we were all told how unspectacular it is. Well, I never did it and wanted to get that off my list of things you should have done in your life. So spending a night with a bunch of Apple fanboys and my buddy Chris wouldn’t be that bad I thought. It was actually pretty weird.
Maybe it was naive to expect some kind of nerd romantic but I was quite disappointed noticing that at least 80% of the people around us were here on a mission: getting two iPhones each and selling them with a 50 quid profit each the next days. Next to us was a whole family including a 4 year old girl sleeping on the pavement, next to them a Sikh in his late 60s, next to them a bunch of young guys being obvisously very satisfied with their Samsungs, net to them some family fathers in their 40s showing off wedding photos on their old Nokia bones. We passed by the (really long) queue the next morning and it all looked like this. I estimate about 90% of the iPhones sold today in Covent Garden’s Apple store are going on ebay or being the flagship product of some SIM card unlock / all mobile services shop around the country.
I think this shows two things: Firstly the extremely high demand for iPhones is fake, at least here in London. Not faked by Apple but faked by traders working on making some extra bucks out of the general demand. Which secondly shows that the iPhone is such a reliable success that hundreds, no: thousands of people – not likely very rich people – invest over a thousand pounds (most of them paid cash) in two phones as they know they’ll sell well enough to make some extra money. What a) shows how “normal” the iPhone has become and b) how reliable its quality is seen.
Not going into any further details I also was a little shocked by the staff performances. For my eyes just embarrassing. Not as bad but also not far away from the Stockholm video Martin Weigert posted a few days ago:
This is more what I’d expect from a miserably executed campaign for Bing.
The iPhone5 itself I find pretty awesome. It’s actually really one of the biggest changes that happened to that phone. It feels so different in your hands. Extremely light but although the screen is bigger its handling doesn’t become worse because of the whole thing being thinner (so you can still reach everything with your thumb). But although it’s lighter it still feels way more valuable than the plastic competitors. This is a device I hold in my hands dozens of times a day – it’s important to me how it feels. So big design points plus the colours feel a bit more intense also and of course it’s a lot faster.
What is a complete mystery to me is how people could not recognise the huge improvement that was done to the headphones. You must be deaf. The bass gets a significant boost and the whole sound experience feels a lot more intense.
Don’t want to go into any more detail there are more competent people out there writing reviews. As it was requested a couple of times I put together some kind of unboxing video including a few pix from last night in Covent Garden. It’s not great (I’m really tired after not having slept last night) but will give you some impressions.
Some folks at Deloitte wrote a nice article about the use of gamification in a corporate environment: The Engagement Economy: How gamification is reshaping business
In today’s engagement economy, where time and attention are becoming increasingly scarce and resources precious, people are likely to gravitate to activities that are authentically rewarding and filled with the opportunities to achieve, grow and socialize.
Good and comprehensive overview addressing some main management concerns and providing some good tips & help to get started. And a lot of managers will need the help thinking about Gartner projecting more than 50% of organisations to gamify innovation processes by 2015. There is no way around. Work might going to be more fun again.
(pic: TORLEY on flickr)
In May the New York Times published an article about the brilliant game Portal 2 featuring the quote:
Somewhere out there an innovative, dynamic high school physics teacher will use Portal 2 as the linchpin of an entire series of lessons and will immediately become the most important science teacher those lucky students have ever had. For those of us who have left school behind, Portal 2 is one of the finest brain games around.
Motivated by these thoughts the company behind Portal, Valve, created an initiative called teach with portals. Here is a video showing some early use case:
Based on the (free) Portal 2 level editor Valve is working on an adjusted version called Puzzle Maker teachers can sign up for and also use it for free and it feels like it’s nicely developing further. Want an example? What about a bit of physics: “Bouncing” and oscillations Lesson 2
Students learn about simple harmonic motion (SHM) and Hooke’s law. Then, they determine that the force of gravity rather than Hooke’s law better applies in explaining the SHM observed in Portal 2. Students test how height affects the amplitude of SHM in Portal 2 by creating a test chamber that allows for SHM to be set up from different heights.
Still think it’s not about serious learning? Here is the lesson plan.
Thinking back about my days at school – I would have loved it. Any teachers out there who have thoughts on this?
And btw: using a game for education purposes is NOT gamification.
(pic: teach with portals blog)