My Weekend With The Microsoft Band

Mutual Mobile

Microsoft BandWhen I first heard about the Microsoft Band (which happened to be at 10pm during the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 of the World Series), I was immediately skeptical of it being a solid competitor in the ever growing wearables market. However, after hearing several co-workers express interest in the device, I began to back off that position and decided I should actually use it for a few days and form a firsthand opinion.

What type of device is it?

While products like the Fuelband, Fitbit, and Jawbone UP are all clearly marketed as activity trackers, Microsoft is pushing the Microsoft Band as both an activity/health tracker and productivity device. This means that Microsoft is aiming more towards the Android Wear/Apple Watch category, rather than focusing purely on health and fitness. After using the device for several days, I think I can safely say it falls short in competing with both ends of the market–a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

The pros and cons of going cross-platform

I’m thrilled to see Microsoft launch with support for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS. It’s good competition that will keep the market moving forward. However, the initial offering does leave a bit to be desired, especially on iOS. I’ve been using HealthKit a lot, so I was disappointed to see it missing that integration, especially since it supports heart rate and I currently don’t own a HealthKit compatible heart rate sensor. Microsoft has confirmed HealthKit support is coming, but no timetable has been given. And the other big missing piece, Cortana, means no voice support or text dictation, which are critical features for any wristable.

Fashion/Comfort

The Microsoft Band clearly has a bit of an identity crisis. It’s form factor is similar to other activity trackers, but it’s attempting to offer up the functionality of some of the larger wrist wearables. The outer straps are similar in feel to a Fuelband, but the heart rate/clasp on the top (or bottom, depending on how you wear it), proved to be less comfortable. The display is long and flat, creating an odd look on your wrist. The other activity trackers aim to be part of the sport category from a fashion perspective, but I would classify the Microsoft Band as “techy sport,” given the large, flat, glossy display.

As I mentioned, Microsoft is also pushing for users to choose how they wear the device. The Microsoft Band website has many photos showing users wearing the device with the screen facing up on top of your wrist, as well as with the screen facing down on the bottom of your wrist. To me, it’s most comfortable (and most usable, but I’ll get to that later) when I wear it facing down. The heart rate sensor just feels better on top, and the flat surface feels more natural on the bottom of my wrist.

However, that leaves me with the band clasping on top of my wrist, which won’t make any fashion trends for 2015. I also scratched the right hand side of the screen after wearing it with screen facing down after less than 24 hours. As it turns out, my wrist rests on a lot of surfaces (desk, table, etc), which is a pretty big problem since Microsoft is encouraging users to wear it this way.

This is one of the biggest areas that the Microsoft Band falls short. It is not anywhere near as comfortable as my Nike Fuelband, and simply isn’t as fashionable as some of the Android Wear watches we are seeing–not to mention the Apple Watch. With the Microsoft Band, I have an activity tracker that isn’t as comfortable as other activity trackers, and a smart watch that isn’t anywhere near as fashionable as some others. I have a hard time believing there will be much demand from a mainstream consumer for this device.

Setup/Pairing

Microsoft did not make the initial pairing process as easy as it could have been. Microsoft touts Bluetooth 4.0 support, but for some reason they choose to force users to go through a slightly convoluted pairing process where the user has to open the Microsoft Health app, sign in and elect to pair, and then be told to leave the app, open settings, and pair through the system bluetooth menu. There are plenty of devices that use BTLE to make the initial pairing process a breeze, but Microsoft appears to have overlooked this small but important detail.

Display

The Microsoft Band features a display that wraps in the same direction as the straps, where as most watch displays are perpendicular to the straps. My Fuelband also does this, however, with the Fuelband I’m only viewing a small number of characters per interaction (the current time, the number of steps, etc) on a small, LED scoreboard style ‘screen.’ The Microsoft Band is a different story. Microsoft has packed a 1.3 x 0.43-inch, 320 x 106-pixel TFT LCD touch display for the user to see more than just simple data.

While Microsoft has provided a way to display more information in an activity tracker form factor, that doesn’t mean it’s all that useful. Since the display is wrapped in the direction of the straps, it makes it quite awkward to read textual content on the display, especially if you are wearing the Microsoft Band on the top of your wrist. It is very difficult to get your arm and wrist to bend in a way that is parallel with your eyes, so you often end up in this awkward position of stretching your arm to an uncomfortable angle, or you end up tilting your neck to the point of nearly touching your shoulder to be able to read content. Flipping the display onto the bottom of your wrist makes this problem less awkward. I suspect this is why some of Microsoft’s promotional material shows people wearing the device this way, but then you are left with the fashion choice of having the clasp on top.

When Apple unveiled their Watch, there was a lot of critical feedback for it looking “just like a watch.” I had hopes and dreams of Apple creating something revolutionary from a form factor perspective, and absolutely loved the Fuelband-inspired concept that made the rounds before the announcement. But it turns out a screen that flows with the band means the user can’t use the device in a natural way, and content laid out vertically in that form factor simply presents no useable horizontal space: a key feature for texts, emails, and other types of apps. I have no doubt Apple experimented with form factors exactly like the Microsoft Band and the Nike Fuelband, as well as designs we will never see, and landed right back on the usable design that has been around for centuries.

Notifications

I have a few gripes with notifications. First, there are no actionable notifications. This means I can’t reply to a text or favorite a tweet. All I can do is dismiss the notification from the Microsoft Band. If you don’t handle a notification on your Band, then the badge number on the various tiles continues to increase until you clear it, regardless of whether or not you have handled it on your phone. In addition, if I am using my phone, I still get buzzed on my wrist. This isn’t necessarily a problem on Microsoft’s end, since there is no way to actually control that through iOS API’s (to my knowledge), but it’s a detail I hope to see Apple get right. If I am using my phone, and a banner appears, I should not get buzzed on my watch as well. It’s a double interruption. It’s also an advantage Apple has by owning the iOS platform, because the Watch will be able to attain this sort of deep integration with other devices, whereas the Microsoft Band will likely not.

With all that said, notifications are practically useless on the Microsoft Band without requiring interaction from your other hand. When an email comes in, I get to see who the message is from and the first three or four words of the subject. Same story with text messages. That means to actually read the notification, I have to either bring my other hand up to the device and tap the notification or get my phone out. Larger smartwatch screens are able to show more information, meaning I can get more context without always needing a free hand. In its current form, the real value proposition is just a vibration alert, and giving me a few additional words to decide if I need to physically interrupt what I am doing and handle the notification.

In addition, interacting with notifications is bit awkward. Scrolling just feels very weird with a display this size and in this orientation. The tip of my finger is literally as large as the vertical display, so trying to scroll content is not very graceful. In addition, as Apple has pointed out with the Apple Watch, on a display this small my finger gets in the way while interacting with the content. Since the display only shows two lines at time (with only a few words at a time), it’s a constant battle of block the content, barely scroll, read two lines, and repeat.

Using the Microsoft Band in this way makes the value of the digital crown on the Apple Watch so painfully obvious. With the Apple Watch, I’ll have a screen that has more real estate to display textual content, and scrolling mechanism to smooth scroll as I read the content without ever having to take my eyes off the screen by having my finger block it. The solution is clear in hindsight, but just an another example of the amount thought Apple puts into its product decisions.

Casual Interaction

Microsoft Band doesn’t have a feature that causes the display to wake automatically when you lift your wrist. This means that whenever I want to see what time it is, I must lift my wrist and use my second hand to wake the display. In addition, the buttons are on the inside of your wrist (as opposed to the side closest to your hand), so you must reach across and around the display in order to press the button and wake it up. While I haven’t yet used a smart watch that supports auto wake when you lift your wrist, I imagine it’s a feature that will become a requirement once used for the first time, similiar to Touch ID–you can’t live without it.

This is another place where Microsoft finds itself awkwardly in the middle. The Fuelband doesn’t have an auto wake feature, but its mechanical button is better and more satisfying to press. Higher end smart watches all have an accelerometer to wake the display immediately when lifted. The Microsoft Band is essentially the worst of both spectrums.

Sleep Tracking

One of the most interesting features for me was the sleep tracking ability. I was disappointed to find out Apple Watch would not support sleep tracking, at least in the initial version. I’ve also never had a device that tracks my sleep, so it’s data I’m interested in learning about and seeing how it can improve my life. Microsoft Band did a good job in this area, as I was able to wear it throughout the night and it gave me a good amount of detail into my sleep patterns. (Newsflash: it would do me good to get more sleep.)

Post_2014_1120_MicrosoftBand_sleepchart

However, I do have three main complaints with the feature and its execution. First off, Microsoft touts that you can get a couple of days battery life with the Microsoft Band, but you are going to have to charge it eventually. For me, charging time is naturally bedtime. Only tracking my sleep patterns every other night would be a disappointment. Second, the device isn’t quite comfortable enough to sleep with. I imagine most people remove watches, bands, and most jewelry before bed, so sleeping with a slightly uncomfortable wearable on your wrist every night could actually contribute to you sleeping less, at least until you became accustomed to it. And finally, I had to put the Microsoft Band into sleep mode every night before it would start tracking those statistics (a mode that required several swipes and taps to achieve). When I get into the bed late at night after a long day, the last thing I want to have to do is remember to put my wearable into sleep tracking mode. That is something that should “just work.”

This led to a small epiphany for me; why am I trying to wear a device that is meant to track my activity at all times during the day, and be a productivity device, when we know the battery technology is not there to make it last for a day or two at most? For now, most of us should continue to accept the reality of needing to charge our devices at least once every couple of days, so perhaps I’m simply looking at the wrong device for sleep tracking. If you think about it, a smart bed actually would solve all of the problems I have listed above: it wouldn’t need charging, I wouldn’t need to alter what I wear to bed, and I don’t need to put it in sleep mode. That’s exactly what companies like Select Comfort and their SleepIQ product are trying to do.

With all the tradeoffs I listed above, I think it’s obvious why Apple has left sleep tracking out of the first version of the Apple Watch. Sure, a user may want “sleep tracking” in a product, but the user also doesn’t have a full understanding of the tradeoffs that must be made in order to make that feature great. In this case, Apple has simply chosen to let it be a problem solved by a device that is more capable of solving the problem, at least until they believe that they can solve it in a way that doesn’t introduce compromises to the user. For now, I don’t believe a wearable on your wrist is the answer for tracking sleep information.

GPS

One of other key features for the Microsoft Band is the standalone GPS tracker. This means you can leave your phone at home and still get full GPS level accuracy of your run. I tried this feature out and it worked great. However, when I am out and on a run, I still take my phone with me in order to stay connected in case I’m needed. Until I use a wearable that is fully connected and does not need to be paired with my phone, its still coming with me. The presence of GPS won’t be enough for me to leave my phone at the house.
Post_2014_1120_MicrosoftBand_run

Sensors

The Microsoft Band also features several other sensors I have yet to mention. The UV sensor was most interesting to me. As someone who is subject to getting sunburned relatively easily, it was very nice to be able check the amount of UV at my location, as well as provide me with an estimate on how long it typically takes to get burned at that level. This is the type of feature that can actually change aspects of my life and make me more proactive in preventing my skin from being burned. However, I do have to specifically turn on the sensor and wait for a reading, rather than it always running passively and alerting me to certain conditions. I’m sure battery constraints prevent that from being a reality, but I’m looking forward to the day when that is not the case.

Then there’s the heart monitor. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about heart rate, and what types of measurements are ideal, which is why I simply had no idea if my heart rate measurements during my different activities were normal or not. With the Microsoft Band, its simply a number with a heart next to it. In the Microsoft Health app, I just see statistics like “average heart rate.” I would have liked to see a bit more coaching on what is considered good/average/etc. As hardware exposes more and more health information about the user, we need to make sure to provide that user with proper context.

For the step counter, I compared it to my iPhone 6, which I carried around the entire day along with wearing the Microsoft Band. At the end of the day the iPhone 6 had recorded ~2000 additional steps, compared to the Microsoft Band (15,000 vs 13,000). I have no idea which device is more accurate, but that seems like a fairly large difference.

Feature Box Comparison

I don’t want this piece to come across as overly negative towards the Microsoft Band. I’ve simply been doing a lot of thinking about the Apple Watch lately, and I think there are some key areas where Microsoft failed to make a great user experience. I think the Microsoft Band will stack up quite well when comparing devices in a spec-style checklist (It’s got sleep tracking! It’s got GPS! It’s cross platform! It detects UV!, It lets you read email!), but at the end of the day, it falls short of being truly great at anything.

The post My Weekend with the Microsoft Band appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

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Why New Technology Has An Adoption Problem

Danielle Beurteaux

When 3D printing became a practical reality, in the sense that the actual printers became more efficient, less expensive, and more accessible to the average consumer, there was an assumption that the consumer 3D printing market was going to take off. We’d all have printers at home printing…. what? Our clothes? Toys? Spare organs?

That has yet to happen. 3D printing company MakerBot just went through its second employee layoff this year, driven by a market that’s developing much slower than predicted.

That same thinking is in play with a somewhat more prosaic technology – digital wallets. Apple Pay was released this year, as was Samsung Pay. There’s also Google’s Android Pay. During an earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “We are more confident than ever that 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay.” But that expectation has yet to be realized, at least vis-à-vis consumers.

Consumers aren’t using any of the digital wallets en masse. According to Bloomberg, payments made via mobile wallets – all of them – make up a mere 1% of retail purchases in the U.S. The reason is that consumers just don’t see a compelling reason to use them. There’s no real reward for them to change from SOP.

Both these instances highlight a problem with assumptions about mass adoption for new technology – just because it’s cool, interesting, and accessible doesn’t mean a market-worthy mass of people will use it.

Who is more likely to use mobile wallets? Emerging economies without a stable financial and banking systems. In those environments, digital payments present a more secure and quicker method for purchasing. These are the same areas where mobile adoption leapfrogged older technologies because there was a lack of telecommunications infrastructure, i.e. many never had a landline phone to begin with, and they went directly to mobile. The value-add already exists. (But there are also security issues, to which consumers are becoming more sensitive. A hack of Samsung’s U.S. subsidiary LoopPay network was uncovered five months post-hack. Although one was expert quoted as saying the hackers may not have been interested in selling consumer financial info but instead in tracking individuals.)

Here’s some interesting data and a good point made: mobile payments are most popular in situations where the buyer already has his or her phone in hand and the transaction is made even quicker than swiping plastic. For example, purchases made for London Transit rides are responsible for a good portion of the U.K.’s mobile payments.

Mass technology adoption is no longer driven simply by the release of a new product. There are too many products released constantly now, the market is too diverse, and the products often lack a true raison d’être.

Learn more about how creative and innovative companies are finding their customers. Read Compelling Shopping Moments: 4 Creative Ways Stores Connect With Their Customers.

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Mobile Marketing Continues To Explode

Daniel Newman

If your brand isn’t among those planning a significant spend on mobile marketing in 2016, you need to stop treating it like a fad and step up to meet your competition. Usage statistics show that today people live and work while on the move, and the astronomical rise of mobile ad spending proves it.

According to eMarketer, ad spending experienced triple-digit growth in 2013 and 2014. While it’s slowed in 2015, don’t let that fool you: Mobile ad spending was $19.2 billion in 2013, and eMarketer’s forecast for next year is $101.37 billion—51 percent of the digital market.

  1. Marketers follow consumer behavior, and consumers rely on their mobile devices. The latest findings from show that two-third of Americans are now smartphone owners. Around the world, there are two billion smartphone users and, particularly in developing regions, eMarketer notes “many consumers are accessing the internet mobile-first and mobile-only.”
  2. The number of mobile users has already surpassed the number of desktop users, as has the number of hours people spend on mobile Internet use, and business practices are changing as a result. Even Google has taken notice; earlier this year the search giant rolled out what many referred to as “Mobilegeddon”—an algorithm update that prioritizes mobile-optimized sites.

The implications are crystal clear: To ignore mobile is to ignore your customers. If your customers can’t connect with you via mobile—whether through an ad, social, or an optimized web experience—they’ll move to a competitor they can connect with.

Consumers prefer mobile — and so should you

Some people think mobile marketing has made things harder for marketers. In some ways, it has: It’s easy to make missteps in a constantly changing landscape.

At the same time, however, modern brands can now reach customers at any time of the day, wherever they are, as more than 90 percent of users now have a mobile device within arm’s reach 24/7. This has changed marketing, allowing brands to build better and more personalized connections with their fans.

  • With that extra nudge from Google, beating your competition and showing up in search by having a website optimized for devices of any size is essential.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) helps people find you online; SEO integration for mobile is even more personalized, hyper local, and targeted to an individual searcher.
  • In-app advertisements put your brand in front of an engaged audience.
  • Push messages keep customers “in the know” about offers, discounts, opportunities for loyalty points, and so much more.

And don’t forget about the power of apps, whose usage takes up 85 percent of the total time consumers spend on their smartphones. Brands like Nike and Starbucks are excellent examples of how to leverage the power of being carried around in someone’s pocket.

Personal computers have never been able to offer such a targeted level of reach. We’ve come to a point where marketing without mobile isn’t really marketing at all.

Mobile marketing tools are on the upswing too

As more mobile-empowered consumers themselves from their desks to the street, the rapid rise of mobile shows no signs of slowing down. This is driving more investment into mobile marketing solutions and programs.

According to VentureBeat’s Mobile Success Landscape, mobile engagement—which includes mobile marketing automation—is second only to app analytics in terms of investment. Mobile marketing has become a universe unto itself, one that businesses are eager to measure more effectively.

Every day, mobile marketing is becoming ever more critical for businesses. Brands that fail to incorporate mobile into their ad, content, and social campaigns will be left wondering where their customers have gone.

 

For more content like this, follow Samsung Business on InsightsTwitterLinkedIn , YouTube and SlideShare

The post Mobile Marketing Continues to Explode appeared first on Millennial CEO.

photo credit: Samsung Galaxy S3 via photopin (license)

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About Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman serves as the Co-Founder and CEO of EC3, a quickly growing hosted IT and Communication service provider. Prior to this role Daniel has held several prominent leadership roles including serving as CEO of United Visual. Parent company to United Visual Systems, United Visual Productions, and United GlobalComm; a family of companies focused on Visual Communications and Audio Visual Technologies.
Daniel is also widely published and active in the Social Media Community. He is the Author of Amazon Best Selling Business Book “The Millennial CEO.” Daniel also Co-Founded the Global online Community 12 Most and was recognized by the Huffington Post as one of the 100 Business and Leadership Accounts to Follow on Twitter.
Newman is an Adjunct Professor of Management at North Central College. He attained his undergraduate degree in Marketing at Northern Illinois University and an Executive MBA from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Newman currently resides in Aurora, Illinois with his wife (Lisa) and his two daughters (Hailey 9, Avery 5).
A Chicago native all of his life, Newman is an avid golfer, a fitness fan, and a classically trained pianist

Human Skills for the Digital Future

Dan Wellers and Kai Goerlich

Technology Evolves.
So Must We.


Technology replacing human effort is as old as the first stone axe, and so is the disruption it creates.
Thanks to deep learning and other advances in AI, machine learning is catching up to the human mind faster than expected.
How do we maintain our value in a world in which AI can perform many high-value tasks?


Uniquely Human Abilities

AI is excellent at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data — but humans know what they don’t know.

We’re driven to explore, try new and risky things, and make a difference.
 
 
 
We deduce the existence of information we don’t yet know about.
 
 
 
We imagine radical new business models, products, and opportunities.
 
 
 
We have creativity, imagination, humor, ethics, persistence, and critical thinking.


There’s Nothing Soft About “Soft Skills”

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level. There’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

We must revamp how and what we teach to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and persistence. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, and most people will need help acquiring and improving them.

Anything artificial intelligence does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique abilities into account. While we help AI get more powerful, we need to get better at being human.


Download the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.


Read the full article The Human Factor in an AI Future.


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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is founder and leader of Digital Futures at SAP, a strategic insights and thought leadership discipline that explores how digital technologies drive exponential change in business and society.

Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation.

Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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How Manufacturers Can Kick-Start The Internet Of Things In 2018

Tanja Rueckert

Part 1 of the “Manufacturing Value from IoT” series

IoT is one of the most dynamic and exciting markets I am involved with at SAP. The possibilities are endless, and that is perhaps where the challenges start. I’ll be sharing a series of blogs based on research into knowledge and use of IoT in manufacturing.

Most manufacturing leaders think that the IoT is the next big thing, alongside analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. They see these technologies dramatically impacting their businesses and business in general over the next five years. Researchers see big things ahead as well; they forecast that IoT products and investments will total hundreds of billions – or even trillions – of dollars in coming decades.

They’re all wrong.

The IoT is THE Big Thing right now – if you know where to look.

Nearly a third (31%) of production processes and equipment and non-production processes and equipment (30%) already incorporate smart device/embedded intelligence. Similar percentages of manufacturers have a company strategy implemented or in place to apply IoT technologies to their processes (34%) or to embed IoT technologies into products (32%).

opportunities to leverage IoTSource:Catch Up with IoT Leaders,” SAP, 2017.

The best process opportunities to leverage the IoT include document management (e.g. real-time updates of process information); shipping and warehousing (e.g. tracking incoming and outgoing goods); and assembly and packaging (e.g. production monitoring). More could be done, but figuring out where and how to implement the IoT is an obstacle for many leaders. Some 44 percent of companies have trouble identifying IoT opportunities and benefits for either internal processes or IoT-enabled products.

Why so much difficulty in figuring out where to use the IoT in processes?

  • No two industries use the IoT in the same way. An energy company might leverage asset-management data to reduce costs; an e-commerce manufacturer might focus on metrics for customer fulfillment; a fabricator’s use of IoT technologies may be driven by a need to meet exacting product variances.
  • Even in the same industry, individual firms will apply and profit from the IoT in unique ways. In some plants and processes, management is intent on getting the most out of fully depreciated equipment. Unfortunately, older equipment usually lacks state-of-the-art controls and sensors. The IoT may be in place somewhere within those facilities, but it’s unlikely to touch legacy processes until new machinery arrive. 

Where could your company leverage the IoT today? Think strategically, operationally, and financially to prioritize opportunities:

  • Can senior leadership and plant management use real-time process data to improve daily decision-making and operations planning? Do they have the skills and tools (e.g., business analytics) to leverage IoT data?
  • Which troublesome processes in the plant or front office erode profits? With real-time data pushed out by the IoT, which could be improved?
  • Of the processes that could be improved, which include equipment that can – in the near-term – accommodate embedded intelligence, and then communicate with plant and enterprise networks?

Answer those questions, and you’ve got an instant list of how and where to profit from the IoT – today.

Stay tuned for more information on how IoT is developing and to learn what it takes to be a manufacturing IoT innovator. In the meantime, download the report “Catch Up with IoT Leaders.”

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Tanja Rueckert

About Tanja Rueckert

Tanja Rueckert is President of the Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain Business Unit at SAP.