This month’s Brainstorm asks what design changes must be made in order for wearables to become
adopted by the general population
(Brainstorm page 24). The consensus?
Smaller, longer lasting batteries. While
I don’t contest these answers, the
reason that I don’t wear my FitBit has
nothing to do with its size or charging
requirements – it was comfortable on
my wrist, water-resistant, and since I
charge my phone every night, I had no
problem plugging in one more device.
My issue was that the wearble
didn’t provide me with any real benefit. Although I quickly jumped on the
bandwagon, as my dad and sister
decided we would compete to see who
could get the most steps on any given
day (we are a wildly competitive family), the novelty soon wore off, and I
removed my FitBit for good.
What my FitBit did tell me was that I
really don’t walk that much some days
(so is the life in a cubicle) and I really
don’t sleep that soundly at night.
But I knew these behaviors already.
The wearable just made it difficult to
deny. Apparently walking to the coffee
machine and back doesn’t force me up
and around as much as I had hoped
(even though it happens regularly, all
day, because of the aforementioned
sleep issues and general caffeine
My other qualm: It didn’t give me
any credit for going to yoga but my dad
racked up his steps by simply rocking in
his La-Z-Boy. Needless to say, my dad
still wears his, although he did take a
short hiatus from the tech in a period of
frustration, as he has less patience with
the device’s charging time.
According to a recent report by Pew
Research Center, 83 percent of experts
say wearable technology will have a
“widespread and beneficial effect” on
the public by 2025. While I don’t doubt
the consensus, I don’t think this “
beneficial effect” will be the ability to count
how many steps we take in a given day.
Recently, I had to wear a Holter
monitor, a medical device that continu-
ously recorded my heart's rhythms
for 24 hours (don’t worry, I am quite
positive any issues stem from my
aforementioned coffee consumption).
However, I was able to avoid a long
stay in a hospital bed because of this
technology. Although the technology
is not new (Norman J. Holter invented
telemetric cardiac monitoring in 1949)
it is an example of where wearables
have an opportunity to really improve
quality of life.
The device let me go along about
my day as normal, but it was very
uncomfortable and bulky. Simple tape
was still used to secure the electrodes
to my skin – apparently some instances
offer no high-tech solutions.
My issues with consumer wearables
persist, and I remain hesitant about the
many expert reports that predict our
future. Yet any time I find myself feeling doubtful about impending technology, I remember that my grandfather
grew up nothing during the Great
Depression, and now he can Face Time
with his grandchildren on his new
iPhone. That is pretty amazing.
What do you think? Will wearables
change our lives for the better? Email
me at Melissa.Fassbender@advantagemedia.com.
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In an effort to reduce pollution in the city, a newly elected city council in Oslo, Norway, has
proposed a vehicle ban from its
city’s center. It will be the first
comprehensive and permanent ban
of vehicles in a European capital.
“We want to make it better for
pedestrians, cyclists. It will be
better for shops and everyone,” said
Lan Marie Nguyen Berg of Norway’s
To make up for the loss of
vehicles (an estimated 350,000
cars will be relegated to the
suburbs) the city will be adding 35
miles of bike lanes and will invest in
But what if I’m injured? Or
transporting a heavy package? Or
simply just don’t want to ride my
bike or take a crowded train that
day? While the plan will account
for the disabled, it doesn’t take into
account those that just aren’t ready
to give up their vehicles, and the
freedom of choice that they provide.
I will be the first to admit that I
am too dependent on my vehicle.
Sometimes I drive to the gym
because I am too lazy to walk (the
ultimate oxymoron) – it’s only a few
blocks away. Does this make me
a bad person? I’d like to think not.
A lazy one? Definitely (although I
make up for it when I get inside).
However, there was a time when
I rode the train back and forth to
college, because it allowed me
(watch movies), but the train was
old, dirty, and a ticket wasn’t much
cheaper than a tank of gas.
Since college, I haven’t used
public transportation – although I
wouldn’t mind doing work (watching
TV) on the way to the office. Yet,
public transportation has to improve
before you take away private
transportation, and it has to provide
benefits that owning my own vehicle
doesn’t (with the same benefits).
Will Oslo’s new infrastructure
offer this? I’m not sure, but it isn’t
the only country with plans to
go car-free. Dublin, Milan, Paris,
Brussels, and Madrid also have
plans to ban cars from their city
centers in the near future. Madrid’s
ban is more ambitious than Oslo,
and would cover 500 city acres.
Ultimately, Oslo will serve as a
road map for other cities and the rest
of the world will be watching closely
to see whether the plan succeeds.
Paul Steely White, the executive
director of Transportation
Alternatives, an organization that
supported New York City’s Citi
Bikes and advocates for car-free cities, thinks that the U.S.
will eventually follow suit, but I’m
Maybe I should be more willing to
hand over a piece of my autonomy
for the sake of the environment,
which may need all the help it can
get, but I’m not willing to do the leg
work if it involves being told where I
can drive my vehicle.
What do you think? Could
car-free be the way of the future?
Email me at Melissa.Fassbender@
Car-Free & Carefree:
An Unlikely Combination