Getting a good night’s sleep with Beddit

“Quantified self” is a term used to describe the intersection of technology and health that drives heightened awareness of a person’s state of being. The most well-known consumer device in this area might be the Nike Fuelband and one dimension where it falls notably short of its competition is in sleep tracking, which the Fitbit and Jawbone Up both offer.

However, devices specifically focusing on sleep tracking exist. Most notably in 2009 the Zeo was launched as one of the first consumer devices in the quantified self movement. The Zeo consisted of one device strapped around the user’s head to record sleep data and a second device that served as an alarm clock and data upload machine. Aside from the awkwardness of sleeping with an electronic device strapped to your head, the rest of Zeo’s user experience was pretty cool. The metrics were simple: REM sleep, light sleep, and deep sleep, total amount of sleep, and “ZQ” — a made-up sleep quality score not unlike Nike Fuel.

A good night's sleep via Beddit

My major takeaway from using Zeo was that the data is interesting, but behavior change is required to drive different outcomes. Maybe that’s part of why Zeo went to sleep forever last spring.

Enter Beddit, a sleep monitoring technology that can monitor a user’s sleep patterns without the need to wear anything — headband, wristband, or otherwise. I was offered a chance to experiment with Beddit and based on my prior experience with Zeo, I was eager to give it a try.

Beddit is incredibly easy to install. Place the sensors on your mattress, plug them into the Beddit device, connect to wifi, and you’ve completed all the hard work. After adjusting your profile settings, all you have left to do is sleep.

A good night of sleep via Beddit

Beddit offers four metrics beyond sleep: movement, heart rate, ambient noise level, and light level. This data can help illuminate factors impacting your sleep. I might need to take Beddit with me on my next trip to New York to measure just how much taxis honking and city lights impact sleep quality.

In addition to the machine data, Beddit allows you to add notes to each night to help explain what happened. For example, if you exercised that day or had a spicy meal, your annotations can help correlate activity to sleep quality, allowing you to modify behavior accordingly. Like any other device, Beddit can’t change your actions but it can help you understand quite a bit in order to affect change.

Looking forward: as the quantified self movement evolves, keep an eye out for convergence with the connected home. Imagine this scenario: Beddit is tracking your sleep and you have a higher movement rate than usual. In response, Wemo dims the nightlight in your hallway. Nest raises the heat a couple of degrees, because the temperature has dropped below freezing. Your Android phone switches to do not disturb mode, silencing noisy app alerts. You wake up the next morning feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Should brands jump into Jelly?

More jellyfish


Jelly has officially launched. The Q&A app has drawn attention from early adopters and experimenters, most likely due to the affiliation of Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. At this point, I estimate that only about one in every ten questions I see on the site are from someone genuinely asking for assistance (e.g. I’m traveling to Boston next month, what’s a good non-seafood restaurant downtown?), while most posters are testing (e.g. asking “who is this” while posting a picture of a colleague) or trying to be funny (e.g. “what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow”).

Some brands have been experimenting within the community as well, which makes a lot of sense. Searching for brand-relevant content in social media can be described as looking for a needle in a Mt. Everest-sized big data haystack; Q&A sites with a clear taxonomy can provide a direct path to discovering unmet consumer needs. Moreover, expert and endorsed opinions carry weight; authoritative answers are highly valuable. We’ve already seen this type of interaction on Twitter — think Best Buy’s Twelpforce or Intuit’s TeamTurboTax answering general questions about consumer electronics or income tax asked publicly but not mentioning any brand in particular.

Given that brands have become familiar with the rules of consumer engagement on social networks, I’d expect that they’d put their years of lessons learned into play when experimenting with a new site like Jelly. But after a couple days, it’s clear that old habits die hard:

Meijer on Jelly

It appears that some brands can’t resist the urge to push messaging at consumers, rather than building credibility by listening to conversations and providing value to others BEFORE promoting their own wares, if ever.

Let’s face it: the Klout-bait tactic of asking slightly relevant and totally mundane questions generates meaningless “engagement.” (For examples click here; for an example on Jelly, read this.) This is a cheap trick that should be banned by smart marketers — who should focus their energy on creating content that helps drive business results.

I certainly commend the early adopter brands (and their agencies) for their courage to experiment: General Electric, Kenneth Cole, Livestrong, CNBC, Meijer, Travelocity, Marriott, Life Is Good, Tom’s Shoes, and Molson have all been noticed by users. But brands must remember that they’re held to a higher standard of participation, even though a human on payroll writes the copy, takes the pictures, and hits the post button.

Jelly’s functionality will certainly evolve in the months ahead and we will likely see features already common on other social networks, such as:

  • cross-posting to social media accounts on other platforms (think Instagram),
  • user mentions and notifications (think Twitter),
  • ability to filter questions and answers seen by user lists (think Facebook),
  • user ratings and badges (think Yelp),
  • topic segmentation (think Quora), and
  • most importantly for brands: ability to search for keywords, phrases, and hashtags (think Twitter).

Naturally, as Jelly appears to be a mobile-first service, its ability to deliver location- and/or time-based opportunities for brands could be a strong differentiator. For example:

  • Any retailer concerned about showrooming could geofence its stores and monitor questions being asked to drive conversion (e.g. Target brick&mortar vs. Amazon ecommerce) 
  • Guerrilla marketers could monitor specific areas during events and answer questions to drive awareness and consideration (e.g. competing against the official sponsors of the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Cup)
  • News organizations could create flash polls during the midterm elections to gauge real-time voter sentiment (e.g. opinions in red vs. blue states by county)

Brands with the bandwidth and budget should certainly get involved with Jelly — in a way that integrates with social, digital, and overall marketing strategy. Companies shouldn’t forget the lessons learned from past efforts when experimenting, which will help guide how to use new functionality — whether in Jelly, Snapchat, WeChat, Line, or whatever comes next. Many brands will draw criticism for using yet another service to create corporate noise, but the best brands will create signal in innovative ways that build business.



Exploring with Google Glass



I’ve ordered a pair of Google Glass and will hand it over to the marketing department on Monday morning. The plan is for every person in our company to use Glass for a week and get familiar with what it can do, as wearables are positioned to be one of the most important trends for brands. Maybe not in 2014, but certainly in the next few years.

After a couple days, my biggest takeaway is that it’s important to understand the potential of Glass and its functionality while monitoring the cultural, technological, and commercial environment of wearables:

  • Cultural, because most people are creeped out at the prospect of being filmed unknowningly.
  • Technological, considering factors including battery life, over-the-air connectivity, and application ecosystem.
  • Commercial, as the price must be reduced from $1,500 to drive mainstream adoption.

Keep an eye on the Dachis Group Twitter feed as my colleagues take turns as explorers in the weeks ahead.



2014: The Big Shift

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 11.05.39 AM

To kick off the new year, I contributed to a collection of nine ideas that are reshaping the future, collected by Nancy Giordano and Play Big. They include:

  • A bipolar economy
  • When everything is smart
  • Permanent state of ambiguity
  • The disruption mandate
  • All business is social
  • It’s all connected
  • The relationship economy
  • No mission. No margin.
  • From extraction to contribution

You can learn more at The Big Shift.



All we need is just a little patience


“Childish impatience — this rush to get the answer before really thinking through the question — appears in our adult world, too…The answer lies in teaching methods that stress patience, critical thinking, and a delayed response based on deep and meaningful contemplation.”

– “Relearning the Lost Skill of Patience,” The Atlantic, 15 November 2013.


The plague of plagiarism

This post was originally posted on September 23, 2009.

I was reminded of it after reading “I am a blogger. In other words, a piece of meat.”

I tend to believe that most people participating online do the right thing.

We invest time and energy in contributing to a collective understanding. I applaud Todd Defren and ShiftPR for sharing their work on the social media press release. Nielsen Online offers free use of their industrial-strength brand monitoring system through Blogpulse.

We celebrate the success of others. The community at large helped Chris Brogan and Julien Smith become New York Times best selling authors. We’ve cheered on my friends and former colleagues Charlene Li, Jeremiah Owyang, and Ray Wang (and Deb Schultz) in creating Altimeter Group.

We give credit where and when credit is due. As Dachis Group builds momentum and understanding around Social Business Design, most people have acknowledged our work in adding their own thoughts to the conversation.

However, as social media has mainstreamed, snake oil salespeople have started popping up everywhere. It may be true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – so what? If flattery means siphoning off attention and awareness that leads to business, then criticize me to your heart’s content. I’d prefer to be distinct and profitable then copied and commoditized.

It’s a simple economic fact that producers need incentive to produce. Social media isn’t socialism. When I see work get plagiarized, my natural reaction is to pull back and share less. Which is unfortunate, because I’ve experienced how connecting and collaborating with a larger ecosystem has driven improved outcomes. However, this ensures the preservation of value for constituents who matter most – my clients.

As we sit poised before flu season, many people have prepared themselves with vaccines and behavioral changes. The equivalents in social media may be Creative Commons and behind-the-scenes process changes. Just as public health officials monitor for signs of outbreak, you can monitor using tools like Google Alerts, BackType/Tweets, and CopyScape.

I wonder if this will be enough.


Stories that aren’t true

It's A Small World

 1. “Ostriches stick their heads in the sand.” Not according to the AMERICAN OSTRICH ASSOCIATION.

2. “NASA had to design the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters to be no wider than two horses’ behinds.” Not according to NASA.

3. “A frog won’t notice if put into a pot of water that boils slowly.” Not according to the University of Washington.


Is the Social Business Gold Rush Over?

In U.S. primary schools, children learn about their state’s history around third grade. In Georgia, they hear about James Oglethorpe and settement by convicts. In Texas, they learn about a rocky relationship with Mexico. In California, they read about the 19th century discovery of gold and take field trips to pan for any remaining traces in the northern hills.


Yosemite National Park


As adults, most of us have an abridged understanding of the gold rush story — accidental discovery, influx of prospectors and displacement of native people, and the eventual naming of a pretty good NFC football team. For businesspeople, the lesson learned is repeated over and over again: as a class of participants, it was the outfitters (e.g. Levi Strauss) that made big money, not the prospectors.

It’s amazing to think about this story and watch the dynamics play out again in social media.

If you care to join the conversation, click here for more information on a webinar happening tomorrow.


Social business and beyond.