How Apple Watch will create new Winners and Losers in the new wearable ecosystem

Apple released news about their new Apple Watch today and overall I have to say I’m pretty impressed.

In the smart watch category, there are a couple of key things that have to be handled in order to secure a large total addressable market and these have been major failings of every other entrant.

  1. watch designs are personal
  2. watches need different watch face sizes
  3. they get used in all environments from fancy to sweaty
  4. they have a long history that you can’t ignore

Apple managed to navigate the first four of those points by building 6 different cases, 2 different face sizes, 6 watch bands (12 if you consider the two sizes) and then a plethora of watch faces. While this could get out of control from a supply chain perspective, they constrained that problem set by clustering. For example, the sport bands clustered with the high durability aluminum cases that have the hardened alumina-silicate crystal. The net result? Watches for any person of any size or any sex that make them feel “unique”. This is a massive supply chain issue that only a major watch supplier….or Apple with its core competence…could have orchestrated.

All of the above helps Apple do one key thing: increase their total addressable market. When they can sell to anybody, any sex, with any suitable fashion combo, now they can aim at all segments at once. While this is the kiss of death for an undercapitalized company, this is the right play for a company with as much cash on hand as Apple has. This is a land grab to all customers of all ages and as many segments as they can reach in as many countries as they can get to. Segment-wise this means everything on the spectrum that is in green (although they’ll miss a small chunk at the extreme end).

  • X Hospital grade medical
  • √ Consumer Medical
  • √ Lifestylers / Move Mores
  • √ Couch to 5K crowd
  • √ Beginner to advanced runners, cyclists, and other non-water sport athletes
  • X Triathletes and other water-sport athletes
  • X Industrial athletes
  • X Adventure Athletes / Backcountry athletes / Ultrarunners
  • X Military Athletes

Admittedly I’m making an assumption here about the waterproofness of the watch. Waterproofing devices like this is very very hard and very expensive. It automatically adds another $50-100 to the watch retail price. My bet is IPX7, although Apple has not divulged anything. They did mention a “water-resistant” speaker which doesn’t bode well. It may not even manage to hit IPX7 which would be a shame.

So where does it fit into the ecosystem and what does it potentially threaten (or augment?). I’ve overlaid the iPhone 6 / Apple Watch / Apple Fitness App / Apple Workout App on top of my market map to show where it plays. Essentially it overlaps the existing (vast) Apple fitness application ecosystem but I think it augments them more than threatens them. It also basically wipes out the dedicated 3d accelerometer trackers like Nike Fuel Band. And so now we see finally why Nike killed that piece of hardware. They obviously had advance notice of what was in the pipeline from their long-standing partnership with Apple in the fitness space.  So we have:

  • Winners: fitness app users who get a great piece of hardware to extend their app to.
  • Losers: Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, Polar, Timex, Casio, Pebble.


Wearable Device Market Map 5.0

Wearable Device Market Map 5.0

I for one can’t to get my hands on one to test and beat up. As soon as I do I’ll put it through the usual stress tests and let everybody know what I think about its durability.

Posted in Computing & IT, Health & Fitness, Technology, Wearables | 4 Comments

Simplified health and sport apps and devices market map

A first attempt to provide a simplified look at the devices and apps market by looking at the wireless protocols across the X (time) axis and depth / complexity of feature set on the Y axis. Let me know if you think this works…or doesn’t.

Screenshot 2014-02-11 23.18.03

I’m not convinced this is the right view but it’s a start.


Posted in Business, Computing & IT, Geolocation, Technology, Wearables | Comments Off

Building a map of sensors, devices, apps, displays, protocols, agents, and end-points. (phew!)

As many of you know, I’ve been looking a lot lately at the sport tech wearables space. It’s amazing how complicated it is. I was experimenting with a way of modeling it out so that people can see what I mean. Not sure this is the right way to do it but it’s a start. Feel free to log into the Google doc (read-only) and either drop me a message here or at troy at troyangrignon dot com if you want to contribute or help me with corrections.

Screenshot 2014-01-26 21.15.47



Posted in Computing & IT, Health & Fitness, Technology, Wearables | 2 Comments

I’ve been testing old world vs. new world lately in GPS watches vs. applications. It’s interesting to see the generation gaps. In short, the iPhone (mostly the iPhone and not Android because it was further ahead and simpler to code for when using Bluetooth LE – a derivative subset of Bluetooth 4.0) is disrupting the old-world GPS watch manufacturers.

I did a workout today to compare old to new. The goal was to do a weighted ruck for 10 miles and in the middle, do a workout. I decided to make it one contiguous workout (i.e. I did not intend to break that up into workout 1 ruck, workout 2 beach workout, and workout 3 ruck home.)


Garmin Tactix GPS watch:

  • read PDF manual which is completely useless
  • try to figure out which app to use to create a route (Garmin Basecamp? Garmin Basecamp Mobile on the iPhone? Garmin Connect Web? MapMyRun???????)
  • Basecamp has maps from 1872 (stick drawings) so I turned that off and used Garmin Connect on the web.  For humor, I’ve included a snap shot here of Basecamp as well as one of the free Garmin Connect web app that uses Google.

fig 1: Basecamp on Mac OS X. Really?

Screenshot 2014-01-26 21.43.39

fig 2: Garmin Connect (the free web app) – uses Google or Bing

Screenshot 2014-01-26 21.45.33

  • Tried to figure out how to get the route INTO the watch.
    • Over the air? Nope.
    • Bluetooth from the Basecamp Mobile? Nope. Argh.
    • Finally found that Garmin Connect could save the route through the browser to the watch through USB.
  • Try to find the route in the watch. Holy cow. Where is it buried? Ah, finally found it.
  • (At this point, I was ready to throw the watch out the window even though I really like it).
  • Set up the screens I want on the watch.

Go TIme:

  • Phone:
    • hit start on the iPhone
  • Watch:
    • hit start on the watch
    • why are the screens on the watch not what I configured? Because it’s showing me a complete OTHER set of screens. Not sure why but whatever.
    • Add my pacing to the other set of screens.
  • (iPhone is showing pacing fine of course).
  • Do my workout – hitting lap function on the iPhone and on the watch at the same time.


  • Phone:
    • Open iPhone Wahoo app.
    • Hit stop.
  • On watch:
    • Hold Pause button until it pauses “tracking”
    • Hold another button to get it to “resume or save” activity
    • Save activity

Uploading the data:

  • Phone
    • Hit stop / save workout on the iPhone
    • Hit “upload to Training Peaks”. Done
    • Hit “upload to ‘Garmin Connect’. Done
    • Hit “upload to Dropbox”. Done
    • Hit “upload to email”. Add my evernote address. Done.
    • (I like it everywhere for backup in case I switch systems. In reality, most people would only do one of those).
  • Watch
    • Plug it into USB
    • Open the device agent
    • Look for the activity file. It’s missing. Why? Look all over. It’s definitely not there.
    • Open Garmin Connect. Yep the data from the iPhone is there, but not from the watch.
    • Open Garmin Basecamp (horrible app). Upload the file.
    • Do web research.
    • Find out that the watch can create both .GPX files and .FIT files. It’s set to GPX if you’re hiking. Okay, change it. Too late. The file is stuck as GPX.

Now I actually LOVE the hardware of this watch. It feels like something that would survive a nuclear war. But holy crap it feels like 1965 when it comes to using it with modern day tools.  You can’t even modify the watches many, many settings and fields on the computer. You have to do it on the watch, button press by button press. Painful.

I’m quickly getting to the point where the iPhone is becoming my primary data collection device because it’s so damned easy and fast and with good battery management, you can still get 5-10 hours of activity out of it.  Hell, turn off cellular data and you can get more than that (but turn Bluetooth back on).  Add a Magellan Echo and now you have a wrist display that lets you start/stop and lap your iPhone so you don’t have to pull it out of your pocket. It’s sort of the best of both worlds.

I don’t think that Garmin and the other watch manufacturers really have a clue what’s happening around them. If they do, I wonder if they’re like dinosaurs staring up at the tiny comets in the sky and then going back to feed with not a care in the world.


Posted on by Troy Angrignon | Comments Off

Review of the Wearable Technologies conference July 22/23 2013

(This post is uh 6 months late – an infinity in this market. I’m posting it anyway)

The second ever Wearable Technologies Conference hosted and run by Wearable Technologies AG (link) from Germany, was held here in San Francisco July 22/23.

Attendees came from R&D labs, early-stage idea companies, crowd-funded startups, and large electronics manufacturers.

It was great to see the energy, enthusiasm, curiosity, and innovation happening in the space. My notes below are not comprehensive but are instead a reflection of where I thought the most important learning was for me.




  • Convergence between Cloud, Internet of things and Wearable Technologies by Harry Strasser, Managing Partner, Wearable Technologies

    • Wearable tech is about the connection of life: between our bodies and the surrounding homes, health care, industry, city, home, and mobility systems that surround us.
    • We will have wearable tech IN us, ON us, and NEAR us.
    • Enabling technologies like user interfaces, energy systems, sensors, connectivity, active materials continue to develop.
    • The value chain is emerging:
      • chip vendors/component/materials
      • design houses, integrators, OEMs, ODMs
      • standardisation test houses
      • network providers (think telcos)
      • product solutions (like Fitbits and Jawbones, etc.)
      • service providers
      • distribution / retail providers (brick and mortar or online)
    • Market segments are emerging [although to be clear many products cross these segments]
      • security / safety
      • medical
      • wellness
      • sports/fitness
      • lifestyle computing
      • communication
      • glamor / fashion
    • All of this is resulting in 8000+ startups being funded by $1B of VC funds (plus un-tolled crowd-funding platforms)
    • …to create a market that will grow from 30M wearable products in 2012 to >100M in 2017
    • Great Wearables market map!

Wearable Technologies AG / Beecham Research Market Segment map

(Excellent map from Beecham Research)


  • Keynote: Partnering to enable Wearable Technologies for global markets, John Dwyer, VP, Engineering & Technology, High Velocity Solutions, Flextronics
  • Towards Function with Style: Assessing the WT Market Opportunity Robin Duke-Woolley, CEO and Jon Howes, Technology Director, Beecham Research

    • this report documents the state of the global wearables market. Beecham is an analyst firm that spent the past year leveraging their significant M2M (machine to machine and internet-of-things) background to map out the space collaboratively with the WT team.
    • They introduced a new market segmentation, value chain assessment, and what they call “fashion industry profiles” which to me seem like “user personas” for product development.
    • Their report “Wearable Technology: Towards Function with Style” is one of the best reports I’ve ever seen on a market in development. 


  • Connecting Life Wirelessly, Volker Prüller, Marketing Director, Texas Instruments
    • Enabling technologies like smart energy, cloud computing, low-cost connectivity, mobile devices are leading to a world of 50 billion connected devices by 2020.
    • Bluetooth Smart (v4.0) matters. It’s already in IOS, coming in Windows 8.1 and landing in Android.
  • Life Augmented, Andrew Leone, Business Development Manager Strategic Sectors Development, STMicroelectronics
    • Quick review of Human interface evolution over time:
      • 1940s – typing
      • 1980s – clicking mouse
      • 2006 – move body (Wii, etc.)
      • 2007 – touch (mobile phones)
      • 2010 – gesture (Kinect, etc.)
      • 2012 – talk (Siri)
      • 2013 – look (Google Glass)
      • 2020?? = THINK?
    • Enabling technologies for smart systems: improvements in silicon technologies, new materials, packaging, IP/software/algorithsms
    • Those are driving the explosion of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) and sensor tech are allowing us to track motion, environment, touch, sound, pressure and then to communicate in small lower power form factors.
    • Believes that by 2015 we can get to smart textiles, leading eventually to advanced robotics and then bionic organs and tissues.
  • Enhanced Biofeedback via Innovative Smart Textiles, Chih-Cheng Lu, CTO, AiQ
    • The basic idea is that with the miniaturization of sensor technology woven into clothing that we can go far beyond heart rate measurement and have real-time biofeedback with smart textiles
    • Their “dream shirt” would be washable but be able to track the users blood flow, respiration rate, gait, heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure and possibly other vitals.
    • (Interesting stuff including the demo of a cycling shirt with embedded sensors. That will be a fun space to watch.)


  • Wearable Tech – The First Act in the Always On Revolution, Brian Gally , Senior Director of Product Development, Qualcomm MEMS Technologies
    • Interesting data-point. It took 10 years to connect the first 1B mobile devices but only 2.5 years to connect the next billion.
    • seemed like a very stock PPT on the growth of mobile. Not sure why this was presented at a wearable tech conference. Much of what is wearables will not have direct cellular connections because of the power requirements.
  • Living Our Lives in the Cloud, Richard Dym, CMO, BigCloud Sales, Chairman of the Board ,SIIA
    • “human cloud” – wearable tech will be integral to the internet of things.
    • upside of wearables:
      • 18% already wearing them [that must be a U.S. number],
      • 75% of them believe the devices enhance their lives
      • 47% felt more intelligent
      • 61% felt more informed
      • 37% felt it helped with career development
      • 61% felt personal efficiency improved
      • 13% never take the device off
      • 7% check their device every 5 min (!)
    • downside
      • users are frustrated with quality and accuracy
      • 51% are concerned about privacy
      • 62% think regulation is needed
      • 20% think wearables should be banned entirely (!)


  • Empower body functions, Björn Weigel, Björn Weigel, Chairman of the Board and Part-Owner, Bioservo Technologies
    • This Swedish company discussed their work on “human-looking” prosthetics such as the Soft Extra Muscle Glove that lets people with weak grips grip things more strongly
    • MY NOTES: I wonder if that works for things like grappling?? It’s essentially a soft and human looking exo-skeleton for the hand. Pretty cool stuff.



  • Designing Around the User Just Isn´t Enough Anymore, Cindy Soo,, Creative Director & Creative Strategist, Flex Interactive, Flextronics
    • wearable tech will require interdisciplinary thinking across fashion, psychology, design, and technology


  • Connected Care. Everywhere. Michael Emerson, SVP of Marketing, Preventice
    • shared some cool stats in their infographic that boiled out to…mHealth is a “really fricking big” market.
    • they discussed the large gap between medical devices vs. fitness trackers. Medical devices are by definition prescribed, regulated, and reimbursed, whereas fitness trackers are none of those things.

Screenshot 2014-01-11 15.53.59

  • Digital Pain Relief, Shaun Rahimi, Chairman & CEO, Thimble Bioelectronics
    • Shaun and his team are building a small TENS-like patch that helps address sites of pain. In terms of following the advice of “always go for big markets”, this team is aiming at the 120M Americans who claim to be in pain from a variety of issues including knee, back, repetitive strain, arthritis, and sports injuries.


  • Contextualizing Health Data with Wearable Tech and Mobile Connectivity, Abe Carter, Co-founder, Amiigo
    • wearables are a great opportunity but they have historically had limited data
    • they can provide input to the healthcare system
    • Abe talked about the sustainability of wearables: sustainably wearable tech + contextual data providing relevant and useful recommendations which in turn boosts adherence and sustainable wearability
    • what if you could combine new technology (sensors)  + user information + social / behavioral data + user input to get a more complete picture?
    • Amiigo believes that would help you identify activity and improve your recommendations.
  • Fully Embodied VR – How Wearable Gaming and Virtual Reality are Transforming Consumer Entertainment, James Iliff, Producer, Project Holodeck
    • In their words: “The goal of Project Holodeck is to bring 360-degree full-body virtual reality out of the research lab and into a fun, accessible consumer gaming platform.We want to make the dream of a VR play space a reality, and at a affordable cost.”
    • Building the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset.
    • Launched on Kickstarter and raised $2.4M in crowdfunding (!)
    • allows you to have a virtual holodeck in a 12×12 space (today)
    • MY NOTES:  Ever wanted to be in the Star Trek Holodeck? That open space that can be anyplace, anytime? Me too. These guys are doing it. Cool stuff.)
  • Vivitouch® HD Feel Enables Advanced and Multi-Dimensional Communication through Touch, Andrew Cheng, Director of Marketing, ViviTouch | A Bayer Brand
    • Addressed the question up front – why is Bayer involved? Turns out that they’re now a conglomerate involved in many areas.
    • Haptic feedback has not innovated much since 1997
    • We need to have HD haptics like we have HD audio and video
    • Vivitouch claims to have the answer with their HD Haptic tech
    • They claim that haptic research says that humans can differentiate between 85 different haptic feedback effects.


  • Wearable Technologies – Building Blocks for Future Medical Devices, Lior Shtram , Director, Technology Management, Flextronics Medical
    • Flextronics Medical is working to create new technologies that will be a toolbox for their customers to use to create new products
    • Some of the components include wireless connectivity, discplays, batteries, conductors, sensors, flexible electronics
    • They walked through their development of a smart patch that could offer continuous cardiographic monitoring
    • Ultimately it had printed displays, flexible batteries, low power wireless controllers.
    • Have moved from patch 1.0 to patch 2.0
    • Provided overview of their 3rd generation smart patch for monitoring hearts of children (My Heart Patch!)
    • This is leading them to invent new technologies such as in/through-body communication networks using capacitive coupling (for transiting signals from wrist hub to patch through the body for example), respiratory monitoring
    • MY NOTES: Overall this was an awesome presentation showing how customers will ultimately have to go from use case to design and then to assembling a vast variety of technology components from a litany of supply chain component suppliers. 


  • Fundawear: the Future of Foreplay, Billie Whitehouse, Director, Wearable Experiments
  • Wearable Technology Impacting Public Safety, Luke Larson, Director of Video, Taser International
  • Wearability Design from the Outside In, Sonny Vu, Founder and CEO, Misfit Wearables
  • Autography, not Photography, Simon Randall, Managing Director, OMG Life

The next WT conference is January 27/28 2014 in Germany

Amazing conference with amazing speakers. Can’t wait for the next one!

Posted in Events, Health & Fitness, Life Sciences, Society, Technology, Uncategorized, Wearables | 1 Comment

A tale of five Garmins (310XT, 910XT, FR610, FR620, and Tactix)

I’m always looking to see what’s happening in the space at the same time as I’m looking for what I will use day to day for my own training across a number of different sports. I’m hard on my equipment and have high product standards. I expect that anything I use will meet the following:

  • It will be intuitive to use.
  • It will survive water, temperature extremes, shock, and rough use.
  • It will have enough battery to last for the given type of training
  • It will be easy to read in any condition, day or night, moving or stationary
  • It will be simple to sync the data to TrainingPeaks (my system of record)
  • It will work 100% of the time.
  • Ideally I can wear it as a regular watch as well.

Of the five Garmins I’ve tested, they really break up into three categories.

  • Ultra-distance, navigation, backcountry:
  • Triathlon watches:
    • 310XT: designed for multi-sport including swim sections
    • 910XT: even better than the 310XT – includes open water and indoor swimming tracking
  • Day to day running, cycling, workouts:
    • FR610: black and white touch screen GPS watch for runners and cyclists
    • FR620 color touch screen GPS watch for runners and cyclists

As people know, I like to get to the punchline fast. I think the best basic watch is the FR610 and the best for longer events (even against the Suunto Ambit) is the Tactix or Fenix. The 310XT and 910XT are great watches for triathletes and hikers in the middle of those two ends of the spectrum.

The product team who built the FR620 is doing some really interesting things. It has wifi, Bluetooth LE, and USB for sending updates. The updates are fast. The basic UI is very intuitive. But the color screen is washed out, and that was a poor trade-off to make on a small screen. The FR610 is way easier to read. Also the one I tested locked up four times in an hour and failed to install its own firmware updates four times in a row. When I checked the support forums, they were filled with issues around wifi and bluetooth connectivity and a host of other issues like GPS accuracy that steered me away. Again this is personal preference and bias. I know other people like Ray at love this watch.

Here is how I graded them.

Screenshot 2014-01-11 15.06.32

Here is a diagram showing how they interoperate with their various Garmin connecting technologies. Garmin seems to be having a hard time rationalizing their application portfolio. It’s pretty confusing.

QSDeviceAppEcosystem r7dGarminOnly


Posted in Health & Fitness, Military and Veterans, Technology, Wearables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The density and complexity of the quantified tools ecosystem is increasing rapidly

Here is a first pass at capturing some of the major integration points (and directions) between the various sensors, mobile phone apps, watches, bands, scales, hardware vendor sites, and aggregator sites. This is only a small part of what’s really there. Interesting to see how quickly this is getting extremely complicated. Some interesting things that came from looking at the pattern:

  • Lifestyle tools (wrist bands, scales) are merging with health tools (blood glucose monitors, pulse oximeters), and the data is being aggregated with fitness information from GPS watches in platforms like and (check out their partner list). Side-note: I’ve used Digifit. Unfortunately it’s very very slow (we’re talking 20-40 seconds to get a page to load if you have data in their system. Interesting idea, poor technical execution so far.
  • There are very clear sub-segments emerging: “medical”, “lifestyle improvement”, “Couch to 5K”, amateur single-sport or dual-sport consumers, multi-sport athlete, hardcore single or multi-sport athletes, industrial/tactical / backcountry athletes — and all of them have different needs. No one tool suits all of them. Many are a complete NON-Fit.
  • APIs and platforms matter. Strava made a mess of their API partnerships last year. Garmin, despite being the best connected of all of the sport watch manufacturers still has no real API story.
  • Speaking of Garmin, between the three watches I’ve tested,  I now have 2 different iPhone apps, 7 different desktop applications, and the watches connect over USB, bluetooth, and/or Wifi. They know it’s bad so they bake it into their apps. When you plug in watch A, the software will say “oh, no you need this OTHER application and it will download it for you. Convenient but wouldn’t it be better to have less of a mess to begin with? I’m still not quite sure what app does what..
  • APIs or not, being on an island sucks. I’m looking at you Suunto, Basis, and Nike.
  • Viiiiva continues to be an interesting player in that they are helping bridge old and new with their dual-band HR straps.

Without further ado, here is the messy draft. Enjoy. Feel free to leave comments at the end of this post. In particular feel free to add corrections. It has a long way to go.

(click to enlarge)

QSDeviceAppEcosystem r7f

Posted in Complex Systems, Health & Fitness, Technology, Wearables | 1 Comment

Fitness Device Comparison: Nike Fuel, Jawbone, Fitbit Flex, Basis B1, Fitbit Force, Misfit Shine, Polar Loop

(Revision 4 – Updated Jan 11 2014)

There are hundreds of reviews out there on the current and upcoming fitness bands. I’ve destroyed and/or lost many of them and have a high bar for what they need to do to be useful.

My plan is to keep this table up to date as I test new devices to give my extremely opinionated view of the most recent fitness bands. I hope it will help you choose the right band for you.

First, let’s get my bias out of the way. I’m an athlete who loves data. I’ve tried many systems, many apps, and many devices. I also have a passion for good design and user experience so my summaries are a combination of my thoughts on these from many angles: industrial design, daily survivability, daily usability, ruggedness, user experience, feel, app quality and function, and data interoperability.

Here is my current assessment of devices and systems. I’ve used all of these for periods of time.

If you’re looking for just the punchline:

  • Best Sleep Tracking: Jawbone Up24
  • Most Waterproof: Misfit Shine (Fitbit Flex is second place);
  • Best overall durability: Misfit Shine
  • Most complete web app: Jawbone Up24
  • Most accessible data: Fitbit
  • Avoid: Nike is okay but I hate that your data is stuck in their walled garden. Basis doesn’t really work 99% of the time, and Polar Loop is ugly and very pre-production.

Screenshot 2014-01-11 17.01.33

Note 1: I’m only listing wristbands. I’m not including things like the FitBit Ultra or Withings Pulse. They are totally unsustainable and unusable because you just lose them. I’m pretty sure this category will eventually die off. I lost several and everybody I know who had one lost it too.

Posted in Computing & IT, Technology, Uncategorized, Wearables | 10 Comments

Working with Team Rubicon in Oklahoma

Team Rubicon is a veteran’s organization that “bridges the gap” in natural disasters. They get on the ground as soon as the disaster hits and stay there until the long-term recovery agencies are in place and functioning. In this case, they were in Moore, Oklahoma for 5 weeks and I was fortunate to be invited to become part of the team that was cleaning up lots. It was amazing to meet the residents of Moore, OK and to see how resilient and strong they were and how they were committed to rebuilding their city. Thank you to the people of Moore, OK for inviting us into their hearts and community and thanks Team Rubicon for the opportunity to meet and work with so many great people.

Posted in Disaster Response, Military and Veterans, Photography, Teamwork | Tagged | Comments Off

GoRuck Challenge San Francisco Class 662 June 21 2013

About a year ago a friend of mine told me he was going to go do an event called a “GoRuck“. I asked what was involved. He said that he and a bunch of others were going to put 50 pounds of bricks in their packs and then go get yelled at by a bunch of Special forces guys and run all over the city. I told him that was the dumbest idea for an event I’d ever heard of. Six hours later I was signed up. 2 days later I showed up. Since that black day in my history, I have gone on to do 3 GoRuck Challenges, a 2-day GoRuck “CIA-style” Trek event, 2 different GoRuck scavenger style events, a summer BBQ, a Christmas party, and a number of non-profit / volunteer events with some of the most awesome people I have ever met. I have not worked this hard, trained this hard, or laughed this hard in a long time.

On June 21st 2013 I decided to repay the favor others have done for me by shadowing and photographing Class 662 as they covered 18 miles of this beautiful city in about 13 hours with between 50-100 pounds of weight on their backs. Here are a few of the photos from their night tour of San Francisco.

If you are looking to meet a group of amazing people who like to play outside, be on teams, support each other, work hard, and put a smile on their face in challenging situations, I’d highly recommend that you sign up for a GoRuck Challenge. Once you get past the Challenge you’re eligible to do their “Capstone events” such as Heavy (24 hours of training), Beached (4 days of maritime operations), Ascent / Navigator (4 days of land navigation and mountain-traverses), and Trek (spy games). You can look up upcoming dates for Challenges here.


Posted in Adventure, Health & Fitness, Humour, Life Lessons, Photography | Comments Off

Boston trip photos

I had the opportunity to spend a month in Boston this spring and have to say that I was impressed  at how many photo opportunities there were. It’s a really pretty city.

Posted in Photography, Travel, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Quantified Self: How I’m using QS tools and techniques to aid my training for civilian military style events

On Mar 20 2013, I was invited to give a talk at Quantified Self Silicon Valley on how I was using Quantified Self tools and techniques to train for civilian military style events. This is a summary of that talk with some text notes and links to appropriate resources in case others are interested.

The video of the presentation is here:

Troy Angrignon – QS Tools for Military Style Training from Gary Wolf on Vimeo.

For those of you interested in the actual powerpoint slide deck, you can see that below:

The key take-aways are as follows:

Carl Jung talks about the 4 stages of life being the athlete, the warrior, the statesman and the spirit. The athlete says “how beautiful and strong am I?”, the warrior says “how can I best my opponents?”, the statesman says “how can I use my skills in the service of others?” and the spirit realizes they are a spiritual being having a human experience. Each stage has the capacities of the prior stage so the statesman for example has all the skills of the athlete and the warrior and can use them in service of others. 

Robert Heinlein, the famous science fiction author, wrote a quote which resonated for me early on in my life – this idea that we are generalists, not specialists and that ultimately “specialization is for insects.” This has been a driving idea for me in my own training.

I realized as I was putting this talk together that I had been moving from specialist to generalist and from athlete to statesman over about 25 years of athletic pursuits.

By the time I hit my early-forties, I was becoming interested in a raft of civilian military style training events, initially kicked off by Tough Mudder and Civilian Military Combine and those eventually led me to GoRuck and SEALFit and Extreme SEAL Experience.

As I got into these events, I realized there was a lot of learning to be had about small team dynamics, leadership, fitness, mental toughness, and athletic durability.

I also had the good fortune to meet a lot of amazing military veterans and to become interested in their issues and organizations, one of which was Team Rubicon, a veteran’s group that deploys in the early stages of natural disasters.

Based on all of this I’ve set out to do a number of events and to continue to build my fitness level and gain new skills and friends along the way.

I got to know some amazing coaches, read everything I could find on military training protocols, and adjusted things like my training plan and nutrition. I moved from pure crossfit style training to more style training with longer bodyweight / sand-bag style workouts. I also moved from pure paleo diet to more of an Intermittent Feasting style approach including a lot more starchy tubers like sweet potatoes.

I also got very interested in tracking my progress. When I looked at the market I realized that it was really split into three (or more) segments that slightly overlapped: medical,  lifestyle, and performance.

As I looked deeper, I saw that the integration between and amongst all the devices and applications was extremely poor, meaning that many devices are out on islands of their own, disconnected from leading applications.

Ultimately I decided against the following tools:

  • Nike+ Fuel Band: I went through 4 of them in about 2 months. They kept dying from exposure to sand and water so I gave the last of them away. 
  • Fitbit Ultras/Ones: hard to keep track of and easy to lose. Just not worth the headache.
  • Wahoo Bluetooth HR strap: Bluetooth Low Energy technology is extremely nascent. I liked the strap a lot and apparently they’ve done some interesting work to deal with the drop-outs that plague most straps but you could only use it with certain apps and certain phones. At the time I was on a Google Nexus 4 (the brand new model) and it didn’t support BTLE. Ultimately I just went back to a standard ANT+ HR strap that I use with my HR watch.
  • Timex Global Trainer GPS watch: too damned ugly and too hard to read. ‘nuf said.
  • Zeo Mobile. I love the sleep tracking data from my Zeo because unlike everything else out there, it actually tracks brainwave activity, not just physical twitching. But the strap kept falling off my head at night and I was getting a divot in my forehead from wearing it. Out it went. Also, the company is now defunct anyway.
  • Apps: I reviewed, tested, and compared all of these but had to stop using them all for pretty much the same reason. There is a trend towards sport specific apps (Strava cycling, map my run, etc.) and I needed an app that would let me choose a variety of training methods and track them all whether that was Crossfit, riding, running, bodyweight training, or whatever. Most apps are not set up for that. The exception was Endomondo which has a great UI and multi-sport setup but the graphs/dashboards were broken, their support was HORRIBLE (even on the paid account), and their lap functions were broken (they inserted their own laps and threw out the lap data from the watch.) One other exception and kind of oddball app was Moves, which sits in your pocket and uses your iPhone to track your activity, much like a Fitbit would do. It’s interesting but ultimately wasn’t that useful for my own purposes. Might be a good fit for the average person not wanting to invest in a Fitbit or Jawbone.

I also settled on a few key tools that would be my staple data collectors and aggregators:

  • I looked long and hard to find a “pro” level tool that would let me aggregate my training data and get decent dashboarding. The application looks and feels a bit old as it’s all done with a previous generation UI but once you get into it, you’ll appreciate the complexity of the application, the richness of the dashboarding, and the technical support (for the paid version anyway).
  • Garmin 910XT multi-sport watch: I like this watch a lot and it works for both open ocean and lap swimming as well as multi-sports. The integration into TrainingPeaks is simple as well. After picking up the Suunto though (below), I’m leaving it behind.
  • Suunto Ambit 1 (Firmware v2.0): I picked this up right as they launched the “Ambit 2” (their naming is getting funky between product models and firmware.) Overall, I like the fact that this can be worn daily, it looks like a (big) regular watch, and it does multi-sport well enough for my needs. It also can track for up to 50 contiguous hours of GPS and HR data for longer movements. Integration is painful to TrainingPeaks. I have to sync it via USB, then export the .gpx file from Suunto’s application and then import it into TrainingPeaks. That sucks but I’m trading it off against the longer battery life and the fact that I can wear it for long periods without charging it.
  • Fitbit Flex: On the upside, it has great wireless syncing, a decent battery life, and a simple to use application. Also, they’ve upgraded their web-based dashboard to make it simpler and easier to read. One downside for me is that the sleep tracker no longer differentiates between light and deep sleep which means it’s no longer useful for the sleep tracking side of things.
  • Jawbone Up v2: I’ve tried a lot of the trackers. My Nike+ Fuel bands failed repeatedly, I lost a few Fitbit Ultras and Ones, and out of desperation I tried the Jawbone Up v2 even though they had originally launched with a flawed product. I don’t love this product but I do like it well enough to keep using it. The band is ugly but flexible so you can move it up and down your arm if you’re typing or want to hide it in a dress shirt. The syncing is erratic at best, sometimes requiring iPhone reboots. On the upside the sleep tracking (if you remember to hit the button) is better than the Fitbit Flex and the smartphone screen UI is actually really nice. I use this to track sleep quality and steps per day.
  • Withings Scale: It just works. Step on it, and it sends your data to In my case, it also sends that data to TrainingPeaks which means one less data point to input which is nice. I use it to track overall body mass and also body fat percentage.
  • Evernote: this is my go-to workout journaling tool. It holds all of my workouts and my workout log notes that are not in TrainingPeaks.

I have learned a number of things along the way that I hope will be helpful to others in their own training.

  • Purpose First: Have a purpose. Be clear on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Everything else flows from there.
  • Learn from the best coaches you can. They should understand how to help you reach your goals with appropriate training approaches.
  • Once you have a goal in mind, find training targets that you can use to test your progress.
  • Track everything and journal it. But don’t let the tools distract you. Do the minimum you can do to still track things. I overshot on tracking for a while and had to dial it back because there was too much detail to sift through.
  • Find like-minded people to share the journey with. It will be a lot more fun suffering through your training together.
  • Realize that if you expand your vision of training, it can be physical, mental, emotional, intuitive, and spiritual. (thanks Sealfit for that learning)
  • Get GOOD quality sleep, eat well *for your goals*, take care of your body – learn how to become durable.
  • Have fun!
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links for 2011-04-12

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links for 2011-03-21

  • IDC forecasts that over the next five years, Asia Pacific spending on IT cloud services will grow fourfold, reaching USD$ 4.6 billion by 2014. Spend on cloud computing will accelerate through the forecast period, with a forecasted CAGR of more than 40% across the region from 2010 – 2014¹. InstaCompute will free up considerable financial and managerial resources in the transition from a capex-heavy, on-premise model, to a pay-as-you-use model with hourly and monthly billing options and the choice of multiple payment methods. Customers can focus their energies on pursuing revenue generating growth opportunities, from their core business areas, while relying on Tata Communications to deliver the technology infrastructure to support their growth.
  • Since I could not find anything, I decided to try to estimate the annual new datacenter construction market size using existing data already available in the industry. My calculations resulted in a projection out to 2020 that I believe is fairly representative of what we can expect. In addition, I also made the assumption that the industry will likely move from an average construction cost of $15 million per megawatt to something more like $6 million per megawatt in five years resulting in a flattening of year-over-year growth. The resulting white paper is titled Projecting Annual New Datacenter Construction Market Size. It also shares the steps I took to generate these projections and estimates that the United States and global datacenter markets will grow 50 percent or so by 2020 to $18 billion and $78 billion, respectively. These estimates were derived by combining my own data with the great work of my good friend Jonathon Koomey, and some of the initial Uptime Institute’s work o
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links for 2011-03-07

  • Do Enterprise Clouds have a future? Yes, but they'll ultimately tend towards niche (specific classes of SLAs, network speeds, security requirements etc). Their role is principally in mitigating disruption risks but the transitional costs they seek to avoid can only be done at an increasing operational penalty. It should be noted that there is a specific tactic where an enterprise cloud can have a particularly beneficial role: the "sweating" of an existing legacy system prior to switching to a SaaS provider.

    Do Private Clouds have a future? Yes, they have a medium to long term benefit in mitigating transitional risks (such as issues over data governance) through the use of a commodity based model. However, be careful what you're building and remember the impact of private clouds will diminish as competitive markets develop in the public space with easy switching between providers.

    Do Public Clouds have a future? Absolutely, this is the long term economic model and will become dominant

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links for 2011-03-03

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links for 2011-02-28

  • There are two dimensions to this. Structural i.e. do telcos have relevant assets that would enable them to capture value going forward? And then cultural – are telcos capable of the DNA reset needed to compete with their emergent competitors (e.g. Facebook, Google, etc.)?

    In my experience (W. Europe centric), telcos spend a lot more time agonising about the former while shying away from the latter. If they were smarter, they would do it the other way around.

    Telcos themselves probably believe they devote plenty of management attention to the question of disintermediation. Every few months senior managements ask the question – the only thing that seems to change over time being the identity of the potential disintermediator (first Skype, then Google, then Apple, now Facebook) – and junior managers scurry away to look at the data, and then come back with the reassuring conclusion that with a bit of added effort, telcos can capture value by exploiting 'unique' assets like location, bill

    (tags: telco cloud)
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links for 2011-01-17

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links for 2010-12-30

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links for 2010-12-28

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links for 2010-12-05

  • This is a graph of traffic to the website of the Australian Open tennis championship. As you can see, the traffic spikes in January every year and then all but disappears for the other 11 months of the year. It is also important to note that the height of the traffic spike is increasing year on year.

    If the owners of this site want to be able to serve all the traffic at the top peak of the peak, they can spend a fortune on servers capable of handling that level of traffic but these servers will be almost entirely idle for eleven months of the year. The alternative is that the owners put the site on a cloud platform and dial up the resources associated with it, as and when needed. This is obviously a vastly more efficient option for the site owners. However, that doesn’t mean that cloud computing itself is Green or efficient.

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links for 2010-11-08

  • According to London-based market research firm, Informa Research, an average smartphone (globally) consumes a mere 85 megabytes of data every month. Nearly 13 percent of world’s phones qualify as smartphones, and these phones are generating two-thirds of all traffic on mobile cell networks, Informa notes. For instance, so far in 2010, an average iPhone user consumes 196 megabytes of data each month, while an average Android phone consumes about 148 MB per month.

    Informa predicts that over next five years, there is going to be a staggering 700 percent increase in data consumption every month. Actually, I think they’re being conservative, and it might not take that long. T-Mobile USA CTO Neville Ray turned me on to the concept of a Gigabyte phone earlier this month when we were chatting about industry developments.

    A Gigabyte phone is one that pushes monthly data consumption to a gigabyte or higher, mostly because people use the wireless web more frequently. Sharing photos, watching vi

  • Ray pointed out that during this holiday season, T-Mobile USA would have twice the number of Android devices for sale in comparison with other U.S. carriers, a sign perhaps, that BlackBerry and Nokia might be on weak footing with the Bellevue, Wash.-based phone company. According to research reports earlier this month, Android-based smartphones are now 44 percent of the U.S. market, crushing RIM’s BlackBerry OS. According to Canalys, Symbian (with Nokia being its main proponent) has 33 percent of the worldwide smartphone market. Canalys noted that Apple pushed ahead of RIM, which has seen its share of the total smartphone market decline.

    Yesterday I wrote about the concept of a Gigabyte phone, something Ray talked about extensively in a conversation with me. “We’re seeing now the emergence of the gigabyte-per-month smart phone, which is very, very exciting and a great opportunity,” he said. “You’re seeing some of these very capable smart phones emerge, and in several cases, we’re seei

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links for 2010-09-20

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links for 2010-09-19

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links for 2010-09-16

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links for 2010-09-15

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links for 2010-09-14

  • I have just spent a week in Korea and Japan meeting with customers on the subject of Cloud. I can tell you, the subject is red hot out there right now…I believe telco’s have a unique opportunity today to work with enterprises in these areas. Not only will it help them increase the traffic in their networks, but it will also allow them to foster long-term relationships with their customers. When interviewed about their fears concerning the public cloud, CIO’s are typically highlighting security and availability as two key issues. Traditional public cloud providers do not provide satisfactory service level agreements. Telco’s wanting to deliver cloud services to their customers can easily do that by using high speed interconnects between their datacenters. They can run that on their existing fiber channels with limited extra investments, making 99.99% SLA’s in reach of any customer. Also as they are local, they can ensure those datacenters are within the appropriate boundaries for compli
    (tags: telco cloud)
  • Launched 2005, GE's now familiar Ecomagination campaign has seen green sales quadruple, accounting for about $20 billion in annual sales today and is among GE's fastest growing business lines. GE is no stranger to capital-intensive industries that measure project lifespans in years or even decades, so Immelt emphasized that Cleantech is surely going to go through some ups and downs in terms of public and market sentiment. "Clean energy will have a long time horizon," he said. "This will be a $150 billion market by 2015 or 2020. And it's global."

    Immelt acknowledged that "green" fatigue is a factor, especially since the public and policy makers have been inundated with hype around the promise of technology to fix the environment and energy problems. "Words matter. Brands matter," he said, emphasizing that the label "green" has lost its mojo. "The word 'green' has cheapened the clean energy movement. It makes it too precious for the common man. 'Energy security' would have been a better

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links for 2010-09-05

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links for 2010-08-18

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