Broken wearables (Image: Andrew Sage)

Not outlasting the novelty

I’d been warned by some and told by others that the novelty would soon wear off. Fitness wearables are the tech trinkets worn for five minutes and then discarded in a draw they said.

Over the last year or so I’ve gone through several brands of wearables and I’ve seen the positive impact they’ve had on me.

Having held off on going for any of the headless devices over the early years I took the plunge with a Samsung Gear Android smart watch. Within days it had got me hooked on starting to walk more just to satisfy the teasing of that step goal. Deciding to walk instead of waiting for a bus (unfortunately all too often a quicker alternative in Aberdeen) or drive my car. I also started that new ridiculous end of day ritual of walking around the living room just to find those final few steps to reach that daily goal. The positive was that the walking was having an effect and the weight was fading away.

However before there was any chance of the fabled novelty wearing off to occur the watch broke, or rather the connector on the charger did and I had a lifeless bracelet instead of a smart watch. I ordered a replacement charger but Google lost the order and instead refunded the money and you can’t recharge a smart watch with a refund.

My choice of replacement wearable was a Microsoft Band. Whereas the Android watch had just been telling me each day how I was doing, this new toy was saving away my steps, exercise, sleep and more to some server out there.

The novelty had not gone, or maybe it had been refreshed by a new slimmer smarter device, and still I tried to walk more to beat those goals. And also run around tennis and badminton courts more to get pleasing big spikes of steps in short spaces of time whilst also trying to win the matches.

Then once again technology failed and the wearable went dead. Microsoft replaced it for me and I was happy again, well for a while until the strap fell apart and I was left naked on my wrist once more.

This state of no longer having live information showing tangible results of my every move did cause some unexpected behaviour and for me threw the whole wearables impacting on the quantified self thought process into a new light.

To summarise:

Life before my wearables – I’d drive somewhere in minutes as life is too short to waste it walking for hours.

Life with wearables – I’ll walk as it’s a chance to beat the target and every step is a step closer to those goals.

Life without wearable – every unrecorded step is a wasted step. What’s the point in walking and getting no data to show for it? At least if I drive the car records how far it has travelled!

Now I’m not one for sharing my daily activity data to try to out do my peers no matter how often various apps try to make me social. My daily competition is against the device and yesterday’s me. With no device there is no competition and the novelty of walking has gone long before the novelty of wearables. It did raise another competitive question though – why didn’t I make sure I won everyday by just lowering the targets? No one would know but where is the sense of achievement in that?

I did try returning to an ordinary watch which tracks nothing but time. However the wearables had more than just a psychological effect and had left a clear demonstration of their impact by the fact that my once tight watch strap no longer fitted.

My competition against those numbers and yesterday me resumes in the near future though as I give in to my tech lust and await the arrival of a Microsoft Band 2. I just hope they’ve worked out how to make a watch strap that lasts longer than the novelty!

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