Trainables are the next development and natural evolution of wearables. So, what is a trainable? A trainable is a wearable that accurately gives real time feedback to maximize behavioral and/or physical change.
The evolution of making a change: Awareness, Automation, and Action. In order to explain the evolution of wearables from tracking to training, I will explain what we call ‘the 3 A’s’.
Before wearable tech, if we wanted to keep track of our behaviors and make a change, we had to keep a manual log.
Think along the lines of a diet log, keeping track of foods eaten, calorie intake, and such in hopes that this will allow us to take control of our bad habits and make a positive change to our lifestyle. Keeping a log like this increases our awareness. Awareness, the first ‘A’.
Awareness is of course the first step, but there are limitations to this manual format. It is relatively biased and dependent on the individual’s dedication to keeping a consistent log. The counts are sporadic, non-systematic and lacking in accuracy. Then came wearables, and with that came the idea that sensors can be worn and have the ability to automate this whole logging process. And such, came the second ‘A’, automation.
Wearables dramatically increased the accuracy, because they are able to take consistent, systematic, and accurate counts of your behavioral habits on the spot in a completely unbiased way. Together with this automation came smart advice. Wearables ability to track behaviors allowed them to start giving their users advice based on this information; alerting users to what they should or shouldn’t be doing, or how they can improve their current state based on a constant uptake of information. Correlating data with outcomes provides an evidence base from which to prompt users to change their behaviors. The ability to visually see what our bodies are doing in a quantified and easy-to-understand fashion quickly became a very powerful motivational tool. Seeing a quantification of the steps we take vs. how much we should be walking encourages us to get up and out of our chairs.
We are on the verge of entering the next wave of wearables: the trainables and the third ‘A’, action. Now, wearables can automatically gather behavioral or physical information, analyze it, and provide advice in real-time. This is accurate real-time feedback. Rather than wait for data analysis to provide us with generic advice to use on our own to make a change, we can receive it in real-time feedback. In this way, correlating activity with behavioral change is no longer dubious.
Wearables, trainables, are becoming much more personal and much more accurate, dramatically increasing the speed of learning.
I will use posture training, and the UpRight wearable, or trainable if you will, to explain how the 3 ‘A’s work. UpRight is a wearable that trains users to sit & stand UpRight by vibrating every time they slouch. Based on the user’s training program, generated by the UpRight app, users are prompted to wear UpRight between 15 minutes to an hour a day in order to train their muscles and muscle memory to maintain an UpRight posture, eventually even independently from UpRight.
Let’s take it back to the first ‘A’. Think about your mother that would constantly tell you to sit up straight, or your grandmother who would poke your lower back or pull your shoulders back when she would catch you slouching over your computer. This is similar to the manual log – it raises your awareness to your posture, but due to its inconsistent nature (you don’t get yelled at by your mother every single time you slouch), it is inaccurate, biased and does little in actually changing your postural habits. Now, imagine a wearable that could keep track of your posture. You would wear it every day, and at the end of each day, you would see a dashboard that would accurately analyze your overall sitting and slouching habits – how many hours you spent sitting and how many of those hours were spent sitting slouched. It could advise you to take more walking breaks tomorrow or attempt an upright posture during the tired afternoon hours. Perhaps it could even predict your possibility of acquiring back-pain. This is the second ‘A’: automation. Now, imagine that you could get this kind of advice in real-time, where it is most impactful. This is UpRight.
Minimum effort, maximum value
Getting the right piece of advice in the tight time is incredibly powerful. It lowers the effort you have to make and increases the speed of learning. When developing UpRight, we sat with professionals from different postural fields – from physiotherapists, to chiropractors, to personal trainers, all telling us that changing behavioral habits such as being upright can take between 6-12 months. We hoped that with the right technology and hyper-personalized training programs, we could maybe shorten this to 6-8 weeks. After our first beta round of usability tests, we were shocked by how fast we started to see results. Within a week, all our beta testers reported that their awareness to their own posture and that of others increased, and within 3 weeks, they all reported being able to maintain an upright posture almost completely subconsciously and without use of UpRight.
This is not magic – it is hard science. Heard of Pavlov or Skinner? It is classic operant conditioning. This theory, developed by Skinner, explains how behaviors can be learned in this almost subconscious manner by getting consistent and accurate stimuli (or feedback) in the right time. In UpRight’s case, each buzz is the aversive stimulus, training users to sit & stand UpRight naturally.
A trainable for every need
And UpRight is not alone. In fact, there are a number of trainables popping up that have realized the massive potential of real-time feedback training. For example, BitBite, a tiny wearable that fits in your ear, attempts to improve your eating habits by giving real-time advice on what you should or shouldn’t be eating as well as your chewing pace. Wellbe controls your stress levels by tracking your stress levels and accordingly giving you real-time breathing exercises to help you calm down when you are in high-pressure situations.
Trainables are the personal trainers of wearables
In this way, wearables have truly developed the ability to act as the most personal trainer. They are with us each and every day and know our behaviors; they can give us the most accurate and effective account of what our bodies are doing. Now, they can give these ‘accounts’in the moments that count the most, helping us to make a change.
A word about the future…
Looking towards the future, it doesn’t stop here…Wearable’s are going to continue to hyper-personalize, increase in accuracy, and thus increase the speed of change. Next, wearables, or trainables, will be able to contextualize your behaviors as well, and thus, give even more accurate advice that will optimize your training. With UpRight for example, we will be able to tell you when you are sitting, what kind of chair you are sitting on, what causes you to slouch, how your mood is affecting your posture, how your posture is affecting your productivity, and so on and so forth. We can tell you what you can do to ensure you are living to your fullest potential. This will make the trainable experience much more personal and much more accurate. But, I won’t give it all away…check in next time for more!