This miniature ring could be the future of wearable tech 💍

Xenxo S-Ring - The World's Smartest Smart Wearable

Smart devices are getting smaller and smaller. The Xenxo S-Ring (Kickstarter) could be the latest in wearable tech to turn your hand into a phone, operate as a flash drive, act as a credit-card for on the go payments, track your steps, and more.

It’s a Bluetooth enabled remote control for your smartphone that allows you to interact with the world without staring at the rectangular glow.

We are not too far from implanting these types of smart devices into our bodies.

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Staring into distraction 📲

The smartphone is a vehicle for distraction.

Statistics show that smartphone distraction kills productivity, on top of the fact that we’re already scatterbrained: our minds wander 47% of the time.

The phone is also a bandaid for anxiety. We cradle the device like a baby, holding it in anticipation of the next buzz so we tend to its loneliness and release ourselves from the maw of boredom.

How can we live in the now if we’re stuck in a ludic loop, anticipating the next variable reward in a perpetual bottomless feed? We are forever hooked to staring into a rectangular glow of external stimuli, caught between texts, shopping lists, and other mind-grabbing dopamine stimulants.

Digital hijacks human attention, giving us the memory of a fish. Even the slightest act of noticing helps us step outside the aquarium to avoid the social imitations of mindlessness.

The smartphone functions as a proxy for personal identity 

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The smartphone is an extension of the body. We know when we lose it because we feel empty without it.

“Though its precise dimensions may vary with fashion, a smartphone is fundamentally a sandwich of aluminosilicate glass, polycarbonate and aluminum sized to sit comfortably in the adult hand, and to be operated, if need be, with the thumb only. This requirement constrains the device to a fairly narrow range of shapes and sizes; almost every smartphone on the market at present is a blunt slab, a chamfered or rounded rectangle between eleven and fourteen centimeters tall, and some six to seven wide. These compact dimensions permit the device to live comfortably on or close to the body, which means it will only rarely be misplaced or forgotten, and this in turn is key to its ability to function as a proxy for personal identity, presence and location.”

Read A Sociology of the Smartphone

Stuck in a state of perpetual refresh 🔄

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The newest app, the latest iPhone — we make an excuse to spend more time with our smartphones. What can be perceived as self-absorption is also hypnosis, as the phone’s rectangular glow grips us into a ludic loop.

Social networks intend to get us out of a trance and sting us into experiencing the world; at least that’s what Instagram and Pinterest promised to do at their inception. Instead, our phones have our first, second, and third eye, recording memories so we can consume and forget about them again later. We are walking zombies, skilled without an iota of consciousness.

The smartphone is an arsenal of distraction, a computer, tv, stereo, and communications device propping up the thumbs of our hands. But it’s also the most liberating tool we’ve ever had. Used wisely, we can shape it to goad our curiosity, make new friends, and explore our creative instincts.

Predicting the multi-screen world in 1967

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In 1967, Rube Goldberg envisioned the future of screen culture.

What he didn’t foresee was that all of these individual devices (TV, phone, radio, camera) would converge into a single device: the smartphone.

People prefer to be distracted all the time. It makes the outside world easier to cope with. Today’s obsession with multi-screen entertainment and multitasking behavior was only a matter of time. Screens are second-nature.

Meanwhile, electricity is the pipes.

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The irony in promoting internet abstinence

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The people who argue to resist the internet are its biggest culprits, myself included.

How can something so good become so addictive and bad? Says the author of Irresistible Adam Alter, who openly admits his own email obsession:

“We’re biologically prone to getting hooked on these sorts of experiences. If you put someone in front of a slot machine, their brain will look qualitatively the same as when they take heroin.”

In promoting abstinence, the anti-internet promoters are really trying to help themselves. Writing or speaking about the resistance, are tools for coping.

If sitting is the new smoking, technology is like binging on alcohol. The New York Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat proposes that schools should prohibit computers from schools, saying “let them play in the real before they’re enveloped by the virtual.”

Like everything else, screen time needs to be moderated. Until then, writing about web addiction seems to be in contradiction with the practice of publishing it — we can’t upload our work without signing in online; in the same way, we can’t take a picture or pay for a cup of coffee without pulling our phones. Smartphones are the ultimate convergence machine, and we are its slaves, using expression as self-help.

Move your phone to the living room

 

digital detox, mindfullness, digital detox how to, challenge social media, phone addiction, can't sleep, phone addiction helpOur phones are an escape from reality. We turn to them to avoid the tension of waiting.

Immediate gratification helps numb the stress of the moment. It also impedes our progress at work, relationships, and our innovation in general.

As Simon Sinek points out in the video below, the two things that take the most time to develop are our jobs and communication skills. There’s no app to help us succeed at these difficult and messy things other than our willingness and patience.

All the time spent staring at screens instead of observing our surroundings impede the serendipitous discoveries that lead to innovation. How can we think of new ideas when we’re preoccupied with a bright shiny object?

Our willpower is weak. To strengthen it, we can start by changing our habits. We can leave the phone behind when we go to dinner with friends and replace apps with a real alarm clock.

A phone is a convergence machine. It can do and be everything, yet get in the way of what’s important. There’s no way around the fact that good things take time which needs us to play the long-game. We have to find enjoyment in this slow but steady process called life.


How the Kindle teaches you to avoid distractions

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There are only two ways to read a book: own a hard copy or read books on Kindle. Reading in the Kindle app on the iPhone is not the same as reading on a standalone Kindle device. On the phone, you are a click away from checking the dopamine-hitting social media feeds, email, and text/push message disturbances.

Reading requires focus, which is why the Kindle works. The Kindle is intentionally minimalist–its magic lies within its subtraction of features rather than extra bells and whistles of a smartphone. It constrains what you do, associating the task with the device.

When Seth Godin goes to write his blog posts, he does it within Typepad. When business people want to hold important meetings, they go to the office. When athletes train, they hit the gym. People use devices or places as triggers for experiences. 

The mobile phone brings everything to your fingertips, a computer that also acts as a camera, a wallet, music player and recorder. It is one of the most innovative inventions of our time because of its convergence and ‘always on’ Internet-connectedness. But with the Kindle device, you can only do one thing well: Read.

Browsing the Internet on Kindle is a frustrating experience, on purpose. On the other hand, playing music or using credit cards at the grocery are more convenient living as consolidations in the phone. They are better for multitasking with other activities than living as single standalone devices.

Kindle means to read just as Google is synonymous with search. These tools excel at doing one thing. As more technology gets integrates into our devices, some activities like reading will be best served on a designated screen.

Celebrating World Photo Day with a cautionary twist

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We live in an age of constant photography. It is not just that anyone can share a photo, but anyone can also look artistic doing it too, blurring the line between an amateur and professional photographer. Smartphone accessibility and a high-quality lense reduce the barrier to entry.

While we turned the camera inward with the egotistical selfie, technology has also turned photos into new formats like GIFs, Motion Stills, Prisma art pieces, Instagram Boomerangs and Hyperspaces. Movies are collections of photos as well, albeit frames laced together.

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams 

Photography is just as much about process as is its end-product. Where, when and what camera predetermine the creation process. However, at its essence, photography is the art of noticing.

“The things that deserve our attention are often the things that allude our attention.” – Teju Cole

The challenge today as a photographer is abundance. Since the cloud backs up our photos automatically, we take as many as we want. It is impossible to sort through them let alone remember them. We are so busy capturing, as Om Malik put it, “we confuse photos on our smartphone as memories.” A camera’s memory is infinite; the human brain, distracted and full.

Multiple versions of a photo also make it difficult to select which image is best — companies like EyeM’s The Roll and Microsoft Pix use algorithms to help us decide which version is right for Instagram and which is more suitable for Instagram or Snapchat Stories.

Viewing photos on social media comes with the same overwhelming abundance. 400+ Million photos are shared on Snapchat each day, and more than billion if you combine photos uploaded to Instagram and Facebook. It’s impossible to sort through them all, so we depend on social networks to work their algorithms to show us what’s best.

When we document everything we see, the images lose their meaning. On the other hand, we can look back at photos to see what we missed. Our photos will become the archives for the future to interpret.

The thing about photography is that it always records more than the photographer intends. Photography makes the past present at all times. It changed the world. It gave ordinary people access to their own pasts. – Elizabeth Edwards, In Our Time: The Invention of Photography

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This smart-powered pedestrian pavement could save your life

The world in front of us is not as stimulating as the one on our phone. So we look down and instead text, play Pokemon, or Snapchat our outfit.

Sadly, we are used to walking blind.

studies have shown that around one in three people get distracted by their phones when crossing the street.

While some people criticize modernity, others are designing around it. Australian firm Büro North created Smart Tactile Paving to put a red stop and green walk signals into the pavement. This technology may save your life when you think you are just killing time.

Of course, this smart design will not prevent pedestrians from bumping into each other. To increase our field of vision and catch the moment, we can use Casey Neistat’s Beme app.

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Thinking Without Thinking

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“When moments without stimulation arise, we start to feel panicked and don’t know what to do with them, because we’ve trained ourselves to expect this stimulation — new notifications and alerts and so on.” – Nicholas Carr

All of our extra time is frittered away on mobile phones. There’s a reason you get epiphanies in the shower – you can’t bring your phone in there!

There are other ways of course, but you have to be intentional. For instance, try to test your patience and force introspection by going to the DMV without your phone.

We live in a world of short attention spans. If your post isn’t captivating in the first 2-3 seconds people keep scrolling…

Unless they’re GIFs or Motion Stills, videos will always get less engagement than photos.

Anyway, phones replace contemplation. If you’re never bored you can’t think. Boredom bears the fruit of introspection.

Digital Wallet

I forgot my wallet this morning. I grabbed my mobile phone though, and perhaps that’s why I forgot my wallet in the first place.

Like music, books, and movies and pretty much everything else, the wallet is converging into the phone. I use the Starbucks app every day. Some day so too your car and house keys will synch along with your passport and license; everything with data will talk to each other. The Smartphone will simply be the remote control to all widgets.

“Any technology that removes a step for people is often the one that ends up winning out.” – Naveen Selvadurai

The good news is that wallet will be one less thing to carry around. You’ll never leave home without it. The bad news is that all it’ll take for someone to take over your life and material possessions will be to steal your phone. Steal your phone, steal your life.

Today’s Pattern of Patience

The Smartphone is an answer to our own impatience. Because we’re always using our phones, sitting an extra 45 minutes at a restaurant is no problem.

Yet the smartphone also raises our expectations. We expect everyone and everything to be accessible now or planned for now, not tomorrow.

Smartphone culture is the simultaneous cause of increased impatience with increased distraction. Additionally, all this stimulation decreases our ability to be bored, which is central to reflection and even creativity.

So how does our patience evolve with 24/7, “smart” technology? It doesn’t. The only way to enjoy a proper meal or have a good night’s rest, is to turn it all off.

Mobile Time Machine

There are various reasons someone may ask you for the time but the most common one has to be because they don’t have a smartphone.

You don’t need a watch if you own a mobile phone. Some people wear watches just for the aesthetic and forget it’s there even when they need to know the time.

Asking for time today is scarce. It almost feels like a trick. ‘Is this random person asking me for the time because he/she wants something else from me?’ Maybe it’s paranoia but it still feels weird, like someone asking you for directions or to fax something.

We live in a algorithmic world where information is virtually ambient. Amazon knows what we want to buy and need to restock and Google knows what we want to search before we finish typing. Asking for the time feels so behind the times.