Tag Archives: tech

Some thoughts on insurance companies and the use of wearable technology

When it comes to insurance and wearables, I think the effect of these devices will be limited. I think this because:

  1. I don’t believe people are consistent about using wearables. I have been using wearables and fitbits for some time. I believe most people are prone to not wearing them constantly. Inconsistent use will make it harder for insurers to guarantee you a  better rate or for you to achieve one.
  2. You are more likely to wear it and use it when you are trying to keep in shape. If you are not, you will likely not wear it. The insurer can’t know if you are getting out of shape or just no longer wearing it. (I used to use a Nike+ device for running, and I ran consistently, but I did not use the device consistently. Many days and weeks I just didn’t feel like it.) The use of wearables is mostly an upside for you, and of limited value to the insurer.
  3. One reason I gave up on using wearables consistently is that they don’t give you much new information. I walk and exercise consistently and so they often give me the same information consistently. Which means I tend to not wear them often. I don’t need the fitbit to tell me I walked 10,000 steps. I know I did because my commute to and from work plus my lunchtime walk consistently gives me that.
  4. My fitbit scale is great for tracking my weight over time, but an insurer could also just ask me my weight, height and waistline and get a sense of my eligibility for insurance, just like how they ask if I smoke. A very low tech way to measure things. Men with a waist over 40 inches are more prone to heart disease then men with much smaller waists, regardless of what a high tech scale says. A insurer needs a limited number of data points to assess your health risks.
  5. I believe there is limited return for insurers to get this much data. I base this on my current life insurer. I can get life insurance from 1-6X my salary (assuming I pay the corresponding rise in premiums) without providing medical data. They only ask for medical data if I ask for more than 6X. It likely isn’t of benefit for them to process the data for lower amounts, so they proceed without it.
  6. Insurers are data driven, for sure, but I think they are good at picking out a limited number of good numbers to determine what to charge you for insurance. I don’t think the numbers coming back from wearable tech is all that good.

So in short, I don’t believe people or insurers will get much benefit from wearable tech. People will not get breaks on their insurance, and insurers will not be able to reduce their risk substantially with the use of wearables.

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In an alternative universe this is the next hot smartphone


I am unexcited about the direction in Smartphone design. The key design idea that less is more in a phone is becoming Less is a Bore. Perhaps that’s why this design of a Blackberry got me thinking about it. While it still has a gorgeous screen, the phone itself is worthy of looking at and touching. It strikes the right balance. The phone as a design object is worthwhile.

It would have been good if Apple had struck out in a new design direction with the iPhone X. Instead they went with Less is More. Instead we have a phone with the Notch and a camera on the back that sticks out. It’s as if Apple would have preferred not to have these cameras and sensors,  so rather than design the phone to incorporate them into the design, they stick out, figuratively and literally. In a few years from now when Apple has gone in a different direction, Apple fans will look back and exclaim how poor that aspect of the phone design is.

As for now, we live in an age where the screen dominates design, from TVs to smartphones. In the future that may change and the technology that we interact with will be contained in objects that have noteworthy design in them.
For more on this beautifully designed phone, see If BlackBerry Ditched the Keyboard | Yanko Design.

The iPhone 8 is really the iCamera 8

iphone
Great review of the latest iPhone*, here: The iPhone 8 is a look into the augmented future of photography | TechCrunch. I had heard that the iPhone 8 had a great new camera, but this article really drives that home.

If you are thinking of getting an “8”, this could be the reason you need. On the other hand, if you rarely take photos or don’t care too much about the quality, I think the case for an upgrade gets weaker.

*  I don’t consider the iPhone X the latest phone so much as a promise of where the iPhone is going. To be honest, I think the iPhone X is as much an attempt to celebrate the 10 years of the iPhone and Steve Jobs’s legacy, not unlike the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

 

Juicero post-mortem

 

Juicero
The juicero is toast. Not surprising to me: it was a terrible idea.

While the juicero was terrible, this analysis of the engineering behind the juicero is fantastic: Here’s Why Juicero’s Press is So Expensive – Bolt Blog.

Even if you aren’t interested in this device, read this analysis. You will come away with a much better appreciation of all the devices currently in your own life and some of the thinking that goes into making them.

 

ICYMI: What is code, by Paul Ford

Happy Monday! Are you affected by code at work? Of course you are! Do you code at work yourself? Very likely, even if it is to use formulae in a spreadsheet program like Excel (which, years ago, would have required been considered coding). However code affects you, I highly recommend you read this:
Code. It’s a very rich piece on code (i.e. software) and what it means to you (and everyone else).

Among other things, it is brilliantly designed. Lots of hard work went into this piece. If you can’t get started yet this week at work, read this as a research project.

Looking to buy a technical gift for someone (or yourself) ?

Then you need to check out the Wirecutter. It has experts in every area of technology — from headphones to TVs to much more — stating what they think is thebest thing to buy right now. They explain their reasoning, offer alternatives, and best of all, the site is kept up to date. Also, they have links to sites like Amazon and others to let you take the next step and purchase the tech you want.

Why the Surface RT Failed and the iPad Did Not (Not)

Nick Bilton tries to explain the failure of the Surface with one cause, here: Why the Surface RT Failed and the iPad Did Not – NYTimes.com. While I think this is one potential reason, I also think there are many reasons why it failed. Here are some more:

  • Too expensive: comparatively to other tablet devices. Even if it was alot better, customers would be more likely to go with the equally impressive and less costly iPad or Android devices.
  • No need for the product: if the other tablets lacked in some capacity, perhaps the Surface would have taken off. But the needs of tablet users was more than met by what was in the market.
  • Network externalities: what used to work for Microsoft now worked against them. It’s not enough to develop a tablet: you have to develop all the things tablet users expect and support that as well. Otherwise you have to go to the commodity market.

Invalid reasons would be:

  • Microsoft can’t do hardware: Microsoft can do hardware. Their XBOX line in particular is nowhere near the weakling of the Surface or Microsoft’s earlier hardware failure, the Zune.
  • No one can compete with Apple: Google in conjunction with Samsung and others are doing a good job of competing with Apple.
  • There is no room for more hardware in the market: again, Google and others have shown it is possible to compete in this space.

I don’t think Microsoft is done in this space. But I think they may approach it differently. We’ll see in the next two years.