Abandonment of #Wearables Does NOT Signal a Dim Future for #WearableTech

Good bye, for now, smart watch 

I'm going to box back up my Pebble smart watch and store it.  I have had it for less than a year.

"Haha!  Another example that wearables have no future!"

No.  Wrong.

My decision to box up my Pebble watch has everything to do with my realization that the battery life is just too short and I don't want to be bothered juicing it up every night.

Battery life is a wearable tech problem

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Myriam Joire, Chief Evangelist at Pebble, speak about wearable technology and Pebble's progress and future.  What I particularly appreciated about Myriam's vibrant talk was her candor in discussing the impact of battery life limitations on the Pebble watch and wearables generally.

I like the Pepple watch.  The multitude of apps it has.  Its comfort.  Its look.  (Ok, I accessorized it with someone else's watchband.)  I just don't want to have to watch a battery bar and wonder if my watch is going to turn into a pumpkin before midnight.

Google Glass...hoping it gets better

Google Glass is still in "beta" - it's a test product and those who buy it know they're buying a beta product.  

Even so, I wish I could make a more compelling argument about wearing it now, though I am well aware of applications in healthcare, hazardous enterprise, and emergency management where the uses are extremely compelling (e.g., doctors live-streaming surgical procedures for teaching and for collaboration with other surgeons in distant locations; limiting those needed in hazardous zones thanks to Glass' to let ability to let other emergency responders or those in hazardous industries see what is happening in real time in a hazardous area, etc.)

For me, however, at the moment, I haven't found a use for Glass that makes me want to be sure to put it on before I start my day or leave the house.  I believe, though, that this is only a matter of time.  It is an extremely comfortable device and the hands-free advantage of Glass is huge.

Don't penalize startups for being startups

As I was thinking about my frustration with Glass, one day, it dawned on me that what the behemoth Google had done in introducing Glass was to adopt the startup philosophy of putting into the hands of willing consumers a "minimum viable product" (MVP) that would allow it to experiment, innovate, and receive the consumer feedback crucial to product development.

Now, it may seem that I am simply making excuses for wearable tech by suggesting that a company as big as Google should be given a startup pass, an allowance for introducing a MVP.  In a field fraught with known limitations, particularly the nagging issue of battery life, those who innovate earliest are likely to ultimately reap the largest rewards soonest from their willingness to take risks, listen and pivot.  I applaud any big company that nurtures startups within it walls.

Wearable "abandonment" is merely an unavoidable stage on the pathway to wearable adoption 

Though Apple will certainly benefit from lessons learned at the expense of those innovating when it releases the Apple Watch, Pebble and Glass will also, no doubt, benefit even more from having entered the space early.  

Though I am boxing up my current edition of Pebble and not wearing Glass often, both have keyed me in to the potential and promise of wearable tech.  I expect that it won't be long before I am buying a newer version of Pebble with an enhanced battery life and more seamless charging system, and wearing Glass more often because of new applications that tap into its hands-free display.

A fitness tracker makes the cut

I should note that I am still wearing my fitness wearable, a fitbit: it's lean, easy to use, fun, helpful, slightly fashionable (with newer, very fashionable options!), and a battery life that only requires weekly recharging.  Proof that the problem isn't with "wearables", but, only with certain wearable products at this point in time.

A bright future

My experience with Glass and Pebble - and fitbit - has convinced me that the future of wearables is bright and exciting.  Please don't mistake my "abandonment" for more than it is - a realization that the some current products are not where I would like them to be.  Wearable "abandonment" is merely an unavoidable stage on the pathway to wearable adoption.  Remember I said so.
Please let me know what you think!

And, if we're not already connected, please join me on Twitter:  @GlenGilmore

Social Media for Hotels – Why It Matters

Hotel Nikko in San Francisco – A Superior and Social Hotel

I was enjoying the Hotel Nikko the moment I checked in:  the friendliness of the staff, the wonderfully luxurious beds, the nice touches to their room service.  

I then looked for them on Twitter and sent out a tweet saying how much I was enjoying the hotel.

I then read their hotel Twitter profile…

 “Just Tweet Me”

Hotel Nikko, in San Francisco, has a Twitter profile that boldly tells its guests that they may tweet the hotel “for any requests.”  Nice.

 Walking the Talk

When I saw @HotelNikkoSF's invitation that I could tweet it with any requests, I wondered how long it would take to get a response and what type of response I might get from the tweet I had sent.  It didn’t take long.  Within moments of my tweet, I saw what I had sent had been retweeted by the hotel with a kind note:

A Fruit Plate and a Handwritten Note – A HANDWRITTEN NOTE!

After a few friendly exchange via Twitter, there was a knock at my door.  I was delivered a complimentary plate of fruit and a handwritten note from the social media manager welcoming me to the hotel.  A HANDWRITTEN NOTE!

Social media will amplify good or bad.  In the case of the Nikko, there is much to celebrate.  They don’t cut any corners in their attention to hospitality.

I had to find out more about the magic behind Nikko's social media presence, so I sent a tweet asking if I could have a meeting.  A tweet came back, gladly agreeing to meet.

Social Isn’t for Interns Anymore

Dani Ortega, social media manager for the Nikko, explained that at one point the hotel relied on interns for its social media engagement.  Then came a realization, she said, “you have to be invested in the hotel and in others – with a passion for the hotel.”  

“It’s not that our interns didn’t have a passion for the hotel,” Ortega went on to say, but it was clear that experience matters as well.

Joseph Curran, Vice President of Marketing for the Nikko San Francisco, who joined us for our talk about the hotel’s social media efforts, elaborated on the point, noting someone like Dani, who has worked at the hotel for ten years, brings to the task of social media engagement a depth of knowledge about the hotel that lets her answer inquiries fluidly and with an understanding of the hospitality business that a young intern would be hard pressed to match.

Communicate With Your Guests How They Prefer

Asked why the hotel is so “social”, Curran said, “We try and allow our guests to reach us however they’re most comfortable.”  He noted that the hotel’s closeness to Silicon Valley also makes digital communication even more important.

A Secret to Social Media Success?  Buy in from Management.

Asked how they were able to be so agile and engaging in social, Curran was quick to credit support from the hotel’s general manager as the key.

How to Be “Social” as a Hotel – Small Things Are Big Things

Curran, who was also quick to credit Ortega with being the hotel’s social media voice, noted that very often the biggest impact comes from responding in real time to a guest who may tweet about having run out of chocolate chip cookies during a conference or needing an extension cord.  “We deliver what’s asked for when it’s asked for the best impact,” he said.

Stay On Top of Social By Attending Conferences, Reading Books & Listening to Webinars

Both Curran and Ortega credit part of their social media success with ongoing training.  “We attend some social media events, read books on the subject and listen in on webinars,” Curran said.


Ortega noted that she tries to promote other local tourism sites via social media as the sites promoted are often quick to reciprocate.  “It’s good for everyone,” she said, conveying a strong sense of devotion to the city.

The ROI of Social?

Though both Curran and Ortega said that the ROI of social has much to do with being an extension of hospitality and making guests enjoy their stay more, Curran noted,  “When someone visits our website from one of our social platforms, they are four times more likely to actually book a room at the hotel.”

Always Mindful of the Privacy of Guests

“We’re sensitive all the time about the privacy of our guests.  There are times I’ll even ask a guest or a group what their preferences are regarding (public) social media conversation,” said Ortega. 

  1. Get your product or service right first.  (Social media engagement amplifies good or bad.  For Hotel Nikko, being social is a good thing!)
  2. Communicate with your customers how they prefer – and, for many, that means social media!
  3. Listen.
  4. Engage.
  5. Leverage real-time communication.  (Deliver the cookies or extension cord while they’re wanted!)
  6. Have a human voice!
  7. It takes more than an intern to do social media right.
  8. Get buy in from management.
  9. Consider social an extension of your hospitality service.
  10. Keep educating yourself in social media best practices.
  11. Collaborate with natural, local partners.
  12. Never forget to be mindful of the privacy preferences of your guests.
  13. Don’t overlook old-fashioned touches, like a hand-written note.  Even in a digital age, a hand-written note still has a powerful touch!

Two very engaging people with a deep commitment to hospitality and service, Curran and Ortega do a beautiful job of providing a beautiful hotel with an especially warm and inviting social media presence.   "I'll be back!"

And please join me on Twitter!  @GlenGilmore  @TravelConnected

Verizon’s #LifeOnFiOS “Influencer Program”

An Invitation to Become an Ambassador!…Ehmm…a Brand Ambassador, more precisely

I must confess that I have always dreamed of someday becoming an ambassador, as in, the "Ambassador to Luxembourg," or Spain or…

Being a brand ambassador for Verizon FiOS hadn’t quite come to mind, but, there it is.  And, I must say, I am dubbing myself a “brand ambassador,” as that phrase was never used on Verizon’s end! 

Instead, a friend on Twitter simply recommended me to a Verizon representative as someone who might be a good candidate to try Verizon’s FiOS’ fiber-optic services and to share my experiences as part of their “Influencer Program.”  It is a sponsored relationship, meaning that I will receive some benefits, such as some services and travel, access to some of Verizon’s newest tech, in return for trying out their services and sharing my experiences online, hashtag, #LifeOnFiOS.

A Need for Speed

For me, the invitation was perfectly timed as my neighborhood has fiber-optic installed and I had been planning for some time to make a switch from cable to Verizon, as I have a need for speed when it comes to the internet - and I know that I'm not getting the speed or reliable connectivity in my home that I should be.

Looking at their information, Verizon FiOS seems to be foremost about entertainment:  “Watch what you want.  When you want.  How you want.”  For me, that’ll be great, but, I am even more excited about the prospect of faster, more-reliable, home, internet service.

I currently have an installation date set for about a week from now, when I come back from Miami Social Media Week.  I am hoping that Verizon FiOS will live up to its hype of “blazing speed.”  Given the in-and-out and often tortoise-like speed of my existing home wifi, I’ll be satisfied if I see any boost in speed and reliability.  “Blazing” would be brilliant!

I’ll Keep You Posted

What I already like about my new relationship with Verizon is that I have simply been asked to share my experiences as I might care to do so.  I have also been asked to make it clear that all opinions expressed are my own.

I am someone who loves tech, though I am not particularly techie, as many of my dear friends will be quick to point out - though, I am a teacher of trends in emerging technologies and wearable tech.

In short, I do hope that I will be able to share some fun and helpful insights along the way through my participation in this program. 

I also wanted be clear about the sponsored nature of the relationship and to let you judge my content from there.  

And, as always, I invite you to share any comments you might care to make! 

P.S.  If we are not already connected on Twitter, please join me at:  @GlenGilmore

Don't Bring Google Glass to a Bullfight

Photo taken by my iPhone, NOT by Google Glass

"So who's the 'Glasshole' who tried to wear Google Glass to a bullfight?"  

Ah, yours truly.

I've been returning to Sevilla, Spain, nearly every year since I spent a semester there as a student, living with a Spanish family.  I learned from that experience that bullfights aren't a tourist gimmick.  They are a deep, albeit divisive, part of Spanish history and culture.  (As an aside, while I still respect the courage and discipline of the bullfight participants, my latest visit made me conclude that I can no longer be a bullfight spectator.  The cruelty to the animals is too obvious and prolonged, even in the best of fights.)

A long weekend brought me back to Spain.  

Heading out the door of my hotel room, I grabbed my Google Glass fitted with sunglasses.  I soon discovered that though I had them "recharging" overnight, they hadn't.  (Double "Glasshole!") (Problem with the outlet, not with the Glass.)  It was too late for me to head back to the hotel.

Even inoperable, Glass still works quite nicely as a very comfortable, uber-expensive pair of sunglasses.  

The problem would've been averted if I had just brought my portable battery pack with me and my Glass recharging cord.  But, why bother lugging a portable charger when I had a Mophie battery pack for my iPhone and a seven-hour charge on my Glass?

I bought my tickets at the bullring, Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza.  I wasn't wearing my Glass when I bought the ticket.   I put them on when I got to my seat.  Though I was sitting in “la sombra,” the shaded side of the ring, sunglasses still made sense.

I watched the first fight uninterrupted.  Immediately upon it ending, however, a uniformed security officer was at my side as I stood up. Eyebrows furrowed, he leaned close to me, pointed to my Glass, and wagged his finger.  I immediately removed the Glass and tucked them in my shirt.

"Wow!  What about everyone else taking pictures and videos with their cameras and smartphones?!"

House rules.

As the second bullfight began, I wondered what might happen next.  I had no intention of putting the Glass back on, but, I wondered if I would be accosted in some way by the management as I left the ring, demanding…?  I considered how unbelievable it would be for me to assure them that my high-powered “glasses” were unpowered – literally.  That issue did not become an issue because, it appears, my removing my Glass ended THE issue.

(I wonder if Hemingway would have tried to wear Glass to a bullfight....I'm inclined to think that he would've wanted the pictures and wouldn't have cared how silly he might've looked.)

  • Don't wear Glass to a bullfight.  (At least not in Seville, Spain.)
  • Don't be a double Glasshole and create a second problem by not abiding by house rules when informed of them.
  • Don't be rude when asking someone in your establishment to remove their Glass.  (This gentleman was NOT; he was simply firm in conveying that his command wasn't going to be subject to a debate.)
  • Always bring a back-up charger when you really want to use your tech.
  • Stay cool whenever you’re confronted and it’s likely nobody gets too excited or demanding.
  • Remember, it’s house rules.
  • This one's for Google Glass or an entrepreneur - develop a keychain device that gives me a quick, even modest recharge of my Glass. 

Comments?  Go ahead, toss your banderillas!  

And, join me on Twitter!  @GlenGilmore 

Fitbit Beats Google Glass in User Experience...

Comparing fitbit with Google Glass...
Comparing Apples with Oranges

I am a "Google Glass Explorer" (translation: I coughed up $1,500 to get Glass early, in beta).  I understand that it's not really fair to compare a simple activity tracker, fitbit, with a "ask-it-to-do-anything" wearable device like Google Glass, but, here it is.

I have been wearing Google Glass for about a year now.  I only recently got a fitbit (and a Pepple smartwatch).  I have waxed poetic in the past about my problems with Glass, but, also, just found improved connectivity with my Glass which, I hope, means a whole new, possibly positive experience with Glass.

But, back to my assertion that fitbit beats Google Glass in user experience.  It's the simple things that count.  Glass has created an online "Explorer" community where we Explorers can share our experiences, network, and the like.  That's a part of the Glass user experience and it's a positive one.  Yet, what I am talking about, is something more proactive, small, but, big.

Like I said, I am new to fitbit.  So, I was delighted to receive the following email from fitbit:

The "Little Things" Are Generally "the Big Things" in User Experience

So, yes, I'm excited about a stupid, little reminder I got telling me that the battery level on my fitbit is low.  "Big deal!"

To me, it is a big deal, because as a new user the email just helped me continue my daily tracking that would have been interrupted if I hadn't gotten the friendly reminder.  I also like how the email walks me through the process of recharging my fitbit.  And, there is an unsubscribe link for when I become more fluent in my fitbit use.

A while ago, my experience with Glass improved when Google Glass finally created an iPhone app that comes with some very friendly walk-through videos.  Still, I don't recall every having received a very simple email like this from Glass on anything.

For example, since it seems that I was alone in complaining about Google Glass connectivity, it would have been really nice to have gotten an email from Glass saying, "Hey, we've heard that more than a few of you have been having problems with Glass connectivity.  Here's what we're doing to try and address this....  And, here are some suggestions on what you might do in the meantime to improve your Glass connectivity:  outline the steps like fitbit outlined the recharging instructions.

The More Complicated Your Wearable Device Is, the More You'll Need to Pay Attention to "the  Little Things"

If you are putting together a really ambitious, do-everything wearable device, please don't forget "the little things" in helping your would-be loyalists through the baby steps.

UPDATE:  Nice Social Response from @GoogleGlass   

So, I tweeted this post and got a really nice response from Google Glass via Twitter:

Kudos to Glass for being social, gracious, and responsive.

Here's to "the Crazy Ones" - and to the MVP

Despite my very public venting when it comes to Glass, I do maintain an abiding faith that Glass WILL only get better with time and, eventually, be the sort of wearable tech that most will want.

Why do I say this?  Simply, because the people at Google are really smart and passionate about innovation and product improvement.

It is crazy for Google to come out so early, even in beta, with a heads-up wearable tech device when that device so obviously needs numerous improvements...Or, is it.

It's finally dawning on this Glass Explorer that Google is merely heeding Eric Ries', Lean Startup model that counsels innovators to launch their MVP (minimum viable product) and start collecting "the maximum amount of validated learning" from customers to quicken improved iterations of the product.  It's certainly not the neatest way to launch a product, but, it is a way to quicken the learning curve for developers by providing them with a bounty of feedback from users -- users who clearly understood when they signed up for the program that they were signing up for a beta product, an MVP....

So, as a tweet from Glass has made me ponder a little bit more about my relationship with Glass, I think I've had an epiphany that makes me feel a bit better about the whole process.  Who says a tech giant can't also be a lean startup?!

If you'd like, please join me on Twitter!  @GlenGilmore