My top 5 products of 2018

I wanted to share my top 5 favourite products and services of 2018:

Google Fi: Google Fi is Google’s new wireless carrier, which has replaced AT&T for me (without changing my #) for the last 3 months on my iPhone. If you live in the US and travel internationally regularly, this is a no brainer because they don’t charge extra for international data — I think this it will save me $400 every year on my phone bill. The best features of Google Fi are:

  1. Travel: Pay as you go data in 140 countries so you don’t have to procure and change sims which can be a hassle especially in Asia and Africa
  2. Cost: Charges on data are capped (no charge after 6GB), which means the most you can spend in a month is $80. ($10 per GB + $20 line rental)
  3. Flexibility: You can pause/cancel your account whenever you want or add free data-only sim cards for other devices.

Peloton ($2k-ish): Peloton is an expensive indoor spin bike with a tablet on it. The bike is really well made and super quiet, the classes are great, and there are lots of stats (for those of us who care) so you can track your improvement over time. The best thing about it is that you can work out even if you only have a short window as it’s on your schedule vs. spin classes where you are at the mercy of the studio’s schedule.

Airpods ($160): If you have an iPhone you should get Airpods — I think they are the best product Apple has released in the last 5 years. I use them for every single call I take, and can’t remember the last time I held my phone to my ear for a scheduled call. The dual mics improve the call quality, your hands are free to take notes, the battery life is great, and they just work (without a ton of fiddling like most other wireless headphones).

Note: Some people have trouble with them falling out when using them for sport so make sure and try them out before buying.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf ($15): This is my favourite game with friends at home. It’s a more structured, shorter version of Mafia and two groups (villagers and werewolves) are assigned secret roles and then need to figure out who are their enemies and their allies. It’s got elements of logical deduction, teamwork and deception and it’s a ton of fun.

Eagle Creek Pack-it Cubes ($45): If you travel a lot, these are really great for separating out items in your bag without really adding any extra weight. It’s easier to find your stuff, keeps your clothes less wrinkled, and protects them if something accidentally leaks. They are also useful as laundry bags (although I always carry a dedicated one).

Future of wearables

I don’t really like the current set of wearable offerings. I’ve used the Nike Fuel Band, Jawbone Up and the Basis. Initially, the novelty is cool, but in the end they all fall short as none of them are really accurate enough or fully featured enough to be anything more than a gimmick.

In the future, I think wearables should make the assumption that you already have a smartphone in your pocket, and so they can communicate with the smartphone directly for the majority of the day. This way, design of the wearable can focus on capturing information that a smartphone can’t capture as well (like movement or heart rate). The wearable can then send this data to the phone to do the number crunching and get increased accuracy by combining similar data that is captured by the phone or other wearables. If you combine multiple sources capturing similar things, you can vastly increase the accuracy of the data. It’s how mobile location data become so much more precise – gps, cell tower and wifi data all combined together.

The one health tracking tool I actually really like is the Withings scale. I like having a historical view of my weight and how it wirelessly syncs to a server somewhere so I never have to think about inputting the data, but can access it and use it in conjunction with other apps such as Lose It as I find useful. I think it does a good job of focusing on being a sensor and a display for weight without trying to do too much.

Once we improve the quality of the data from wearables and increase the number of types of sensors (breathing, heart rate, sleep, movement, weight, food intake etc) then we’ll be able to draw really awesome insight by combining information from lots of different sources to get a better picture of overall health and track changes over time.

It could be interesting if my doctor had a dashboard with all the inputs from my wearables and can see long term trends as well as use this information to help diagnose current or future conditions based on what’s happened in between visits.