Four Weeks with Nothing on My Wrist

After wearing the Fitbit Surge for seven weeks, I developed an ugly skin rash. So, I took a break and let my skin breathe for a while.

I’m all better now, thanks for asking.

For most of the year, I’ve been test-driving various fitness bands and super watches and journaling my impressions here as one man’s research. After all, wearables are, and have been, a thing for a while now. So, I need to know as much as possible.

First came three weeks with the Nike+ Fuelband, then four with the Basis Peak, then four and a day with the Jawbone UP24, followed by seven with the Fitbit Surge.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s 18 weeks with something on my wrist, a lot for me after 23 years, give or take, of nothing on my wrist; I’m not really a watch guy.

Here's a random picture of chairs congregating outside Building 200

Here’s a random picture of chairs congregating outside Building 200. Enjoy.

Physical bands aside, I was also tracking and quantifying myself, my fitness and general activity data and my sleep data. I’m a fan of the quantified self and better living through statistics and math. Looking at raw numbers forces introspection that can be very revealing, in good and bad ways.

If you read here, you’ll recall Thao (@thaobnguyen) and Ben both attended QS15, and Ben has an interest quantified self devices, like Automatic. So, I’m not alone on the team.

Anyway, before I put on another device, I decided to capture the pros and cons of not wearing one, at least in terms of what was missing when I had a naked wrist.

The Pros

Not having something on my wrist all the time is pro enough. I generally don’t like encumbrances, and having my wrist free again is nice.

Typing on a keyboard is another plus. I still don’t know how people with watches do it. A guy I used to work with wore a watch, and his Macbook Pro showed the scratch damage it did to the unibody aluminum.

Being free of data collection is liberating, but it cuts both ways. On the plus side, I don’t obsess about my step count. Wearing a fitness tracker has made it painfully obvious that my life is dangerously sedentary.

If it weren’t for running on a treadmill, there are many days when I wouldn’t reach the 10,000 steps magic number.

Why is this a pro? Now that I know, I can adjust accordingly, without a tracker, and I have a general idea of how much activity generates 10,000 steps.

Taking a break from testing has given me time to reflect on the four devices I’ve used without being too close to the one I’m currently testing. When I finish this research experiment, I should take a similar break to reflect.

The Cons

On the downside, I really got used to having the time on my wrist, which is something I missed when I wore the Jawbone UP24 as well.

Even though I did find myself checking the time as a nervous habit, the utility outweighed the nervous tick.

I really miss the phone and text notifications that the two super watches, the Basis Peak and Fitbit Surge provide.

On the data collection side, I find myself needing to be pushed by numbers. It’s weird, I know; I’ll recognize something that generates more activity, like walking vs. driving, but I need the extra push to do it.

I also miss my morning data review. It became routine for me to review my night’s sleep and browse through my data each morning, my own a personal, daily report.

Now that Google has Your Timeline for Maps, you can begin to see the value of aggregating data summaries; yes, it’s creepy, especially the implications of kismet or whatever the opposite of that is, but I remain in the optimistic camp that hopes to correlate and improve based on personal data sets.

Anyway, figured since I’d been sharing my wearables observations, I might as well share my lack of wearable observations.

Sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll get started on a new one. Stay tuned.

AboutJake

a.k.a.:jkuramot

2 comments

  1. Agree on the cons – especially the motivational side of the app or watch gathering the data and then reviewing it, sharing it, and comparing it with others. Over time I guess that impact is lessened and you’ll exercise just as much and seek other ways to document your life metrics.

    For a long time I was convinced I couldn’t run unless I listened to music. Then circumstances forced me to run without music a few times (Connemara Marathon doesn’t allow use of headphones – and running with a dog requires all senses firing) – I got used to it.

  2. @Ultan: Very true observations, We seem to be the target personality types for QS. I find myself wondering what the point of exercising is if I can’t quantify and compare it, missing the entire point of exercising 🙂

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