Wearables Today

Remember the MPMan? It was one of the first MP3 players.  It blazed trails, but in hindsight it really wasn’t all that good.


I think this is about where we are with wearables today. Fitbit, GalaxyGear, Pebble; there’s a lot of great design that’s gone into some of these products, but they’ll soon all seem as dorky as the MPMan does today.

When I was a kid MIDI greeting cards were state-of-the-art. Now dancing & singing cards are filling that space. Soon, $8 birthday cards will have Pebble-class guts.

20 years from now we will be able to carpet every square meter of a city with iPad-class, solar-powered, networked sensors & computation for less than we pay to clean up gum litter today.

“Spring” starts today.

This winter has seemed particularly bitter in Ottawa this year. But when you map last March’s temperatures with this year’s, it’s not really that different:

march-2013 vs march-2014It’s been a little colder, and maybe the interruption of  March’s warm cycle made it seem a lot worse. Those frigid night-time temps also make mornings horrible. Memories of March 2012 might also be to blame for our impatience this year. That March was  summer-like in comparison:

march-2012 vs march-2013 vs march-2014

New Categories

What if instead of an iWatch, Apple puts all of it’s manufacturing brilliance into a desktop product they can sell an ecosystem around? In essence package up Tim Cook’s operational ability to make amazing devices. The iCook.

The iPhone was a game changes in mobile. What about a $1999 multi-material, micron-tolerance,  desktop-manufacturing 3D-printer? It could include an “App-store” for 3D designs & tools. iOS devices could act as 3D scanners. Then there’s the potentially huge ‘filament’ business. Multiple colours and multiple materials. It seems crazy, but if you were to tell 1999-me about the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, I would have thought you were nuts.

How many Ps?

Paracetamol. This is the molecule that relieves pain and is found in Tylenol. One gram, or 1000mg, is a safe & highly effective dose for most healthy adults. If you have a headache, very shortly after taking a 1000mg dose of paracetamol your pain will almost certainly be gone. This is pretty amazing. A single gram of something having such a large, safe, and quick-acting effect. But I think the normalization of this might threaten our objective thinking about nutrition.

Consider vitamin supplementation. I think it’s reasonable to say that the cumulative benefit in maxing out your micro-nutrient RDAs only becomes apparent after weeks and months of consistently doing so. And I’m not just talking about getting enough Vitamin C. I mean the total marginal benefit from going from say 25% RDA to 100% RDA on all the essential micro-nutrients.

I usually fail to adequacy convince people of the relative size of effect between different diet choices. But I thought maybe using 1P: 1g of paracetamol, as a reasonable unit of measuring and comparing the “size of effect” of different choices. The idea is when you’re making diet choices, or learning something new, ask the question “how many Ps will this deliver?”.

The fact that vitamins take weeks and month to have significant effects tells us that the cumulative relative benefit of maxing our total micro-nutrient RDAa is significantly less than 1P. Think about that. Hundreds of dollars in vitamins a year, and getting a handful of Tylenol worth of benefit. It is relatively safe to super-dose vitamins, which underscores how minute of an acute effect they deliver. A day, or even short bursts of getting more than 10x your RDA wont hurt you, but that also tells you about how effective they are.

Add to this context a healthy person who eats a diet matched to their activity level, made up of mostly whole foods. This person is very likely already getting more than the RDA in essential micro-nutrients from their diet, and so vitamin supplementation offers zero effect. Zero Ps.

I’m hoping by empathetically asking the  ”OK, how many Ps do you think ______ delivers?” question and not expecting an answer, but just listening, will help to shift thinking over time back to the fundamentals.

Flexible Dieting

It’s popular to knock fast food, but it is easier to measure than food made at home. I love to cook, and I do almost every day. But I have to accept much more of a margin of error on what myfitnesspal says my calories, fibre, and macros are at for the day. I know exactly how many calories a double cheeseburger has, and exactly how many grams of carbs, protein, and fat I’m getting. I can expect it to be exactly the same at any location on the planet. I might eat fast food a dozen times a year, totalling maybe 20,000 calories. In the context of the 700,000+ calories I eat a year, any purported negative effects of it being fast food are insignificant.