The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Lumo Lift arrives - no app - annoying proprietary charging interface

A while back I bought a LumoBack - a QS device that detected posture.  Work on a lightweight strap with velcro strap around waist. Overall I liked it - especially when I realized that it counted steps pretty well, better in many ways than my Basis watch.

Unfortunately, I lost mine - I found it annoying to have the lightweight strap around my waist, when wearing an actual belt.  I determined that I could take the LumoBack off the strap, and put it on my actual belt.  Unfortunately, after a few days of doing this, with occasional buzzing reminded me to maintain good posture, I realized that the LumoBack had fallen off my belt.  I conjecture that the plastic loops were stressed by the real belt, in ways they had not been with the original.

I would have bought a replacement, except the LumoBack was no longer for sale.  It was replaced by the LumoLift, worn at the collar.

Received my LumoLift yesterday.  First impressions:

---+ Overall Good

Nice small device.

Magnets hold it on through clothes.

Worn just under collar bone.

Advised not to wear on loose shirts.  Has worked okay on all the shirts I have tried so far.

Magnets hold tightly enough that twice I have stripped off a shirt and tossed it into laundry hamper, forgetting to remove the LumoLift - and had to go dig in the hamper when I realized I was no longer feeling the occasional buss when slouching.

User interface on actual device good:  double click to "snapshot", i.e. calibrate, triple buzz acknowledge; press and hold to toggle enable/disable buzzing when slouching, single buzz to acknowledge on, double buzz off.

In this respect better than LumoBack, where I frequently had to recalibrate using the Android app.  Actually, the LumoBack had similar UI on the device, but I seemed to use the Android app most.   It is a good thing that the LumoLift does not depend on the app as much as LumoBack did - since there is no LumoLift app yet.

The LumoLift seems less sensitive, out of the box, than the LumoBack was.  Fewer false alarms; necessary because no Andoid app to control sensitivity.  But it accepts slouched postures - I have to stand almost upside down to make it start buzzing. Perhaps when the app is available...

---+ No App Yet :-(

No Android app.

iOS app possibly available (unclear, I have no incentive to investigate).

Windows desktop app available "real soon now".

No Android app supposedly because Google Android's BLE (BlueTooth Low Energy) support is immature and unreliable.  This may be consistent with the flakiness of the LumoBack, which required frequent resets.

---+ No Pedometerr ... ?

At least not until the app is available.

I liked the LumoBack enough that I would recommend getting it instead of an activity watch.

But the LumoBacl cannot play there.

---+ Non-standard USB Charging cradle

* I am annoyed that the LumoLift has a custom charging station - USB, sure.  But this means that I cannot simply plug the LumoLift into whatever USB charger I have close at hand with a standard micro-USB cable  - at my desk at work, at home, in car.   Instead, can only charge up at one place.

Carrying around the charging station is suboptimal: since I have several such devices.  E.g. my Basis watch.

Indeed, one of the reasons that I liked the LumoBack so much was that it used a generic microUSB charging connector.  On several occasions I was able to charge it up, when my Basis watch was out of charge.  Now my LumoLift and Basis watch are equally non-functional.

Buying extra charging stations - perhaps. After all, I have a total of 4 chargers for my laptop, albeit one being a universal (home, work, cottage, backpack). I used to buy multiple cell phone chargers, back when cell phones had proprietary chargers.  But now that most cell phones have standard USB chargers, I just buy multiple USB chargers.

Perhaps it is good "gouge the consumer" marketing to require extra charging stations be bought by those of us who want ubiquity.  Although, at the moment, you cannot purchase extra charging stations from Lumo. (I think Basis does sell extra charging stations, for a "gouge the consumer" price).

Although "do not ascribe to malice too quickly that which can be explained by stupidity". Or lack of standards.

Perhaps the designers of LumoLift and the Basis Watch realized that USB micro connectors are unreliable.  Certainly an impediment to a QS deviced, that you might want to wear into the shower after a workout. (Easy to do so accidentally - I haven't yet forgotten to take off my Basis watch, but already, in les than one day of wearing my LumoLift, I have changed shirts twice without taking it off the old shirt.  Which I think means that the LumoLift is non-obtrusive.

Micro-USB is unreliable.  The Basis watch has 4 metal pads, the LumoLift two.  Probably these connectors are more reliable.  But they need pressure to make contact: on the Basis watch provided by a wraparound plastic cradle, on the LumoLift provided by magnets.

I am not aware if the LumoLift and Basis watch's power contacts are standard.  Not found in a quick google.

I do rather wish that the LumoLift and Basis Watch had chosen to use the same sort of TRS connector (headphone jack, TRRS, Tip/Ring*/Sleeve, mini 3.5mm Apple, submini 2.5mm).  Not standard USB, but reasonably common.  Good enough that iPods can be made waterproof for swimmers.

I can understand that such a "shaft" may be a pain to design around.  And that it is annoyingly thick.  Still, I wish that the LumoLift and Basis watch used connectors that were reasonably widely available.