Crowdfunding Spotlight: Sense

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Sense

Aug 8, 2014

As an American I feel that it seems that we are sometimes destined to not get enough sleep. We wake up early for work and then spend all day chugging coffee only to quickly try and fall asleep so we can start it all over again tomorrow. There are plenty of apps for smartphones that allow the user to keep a record of their sleeping habits, and I have tried a handful of them myself. One of the biggest problems with these is that the phone has to physically be on the bed with you, and because it is constantly recording data is should also be charging. Sometimes these two things are not very convenient, and it puts the impetus on the user to set everything up before going to bed which, from my personal experience, is the area where I tended to fall short the most.

Enter the Sense. A beautiful, spherical device that sits on the bedside table and analyzes sleep not just through motion, but through ambient light, sound, and temperature. The Sense knows the perfect environment for sleep and will display what factor was most likely responsible for a poor nights sleep. This will allow for corrections to be made which should improve sleep quality.

The Sense comes in three parts, there is the base station that houses the brains as well as almost all of the sensors in the system. The actual motion sensor comes in a clip that discretely attaches to the user’s pillow and constantly communicates to the base station during the evening. The final piece of the puzzle is the smartphone app that is almost a given now days, and this displays a myriad of information for consumption by the user to digest. Featured prominently is a number that is the score for that night’s sleep measured out of 100. The app looks great, and it truly seems to be a joy to use.


My favorite feature is the smart alarm that times the user’s natural sleep cycles and knows the right time to sound the alarm. Simply put in a range of acceptable alarm times and the Sense will know, based on that night’s sleep pattern, when the sleeper is at their shallowest cycle; aka. when they will wake up easiest.

As always, the biggest selling point will be the price; will the Sense be cheap enough that somebody would justify splurging for it or getting it as a quick birthday or holiday gift? With the pre-order price set to $120 this is sitting right on that line. Maybe for a big Christmas gift or college graduation present, but the Sense is definitely not something most people would buy on the spur of the moment. All that aside, however, this is a great product and I can see it really taking off and becoming a massive hit in the tech community; especially those of us who work for a living.

Theme Thursday: Four Key for GO Locker

Theme Thursday: Four Key for GO Locker

Apr 12, 2012

Rarely on Android is the lock screen customized. Most people are not even aware that this is an option, even those who have custom launchers. I, for one, am not entirely sold on non-stock launchers simply because I have not found one that consistently works faster then HTC’s Sense locker. Sometimes there is a slight lag between unlocking and when the custom locker actually appears, giving a glimpse of the home screen before slyly taking it away. Nobody wants their software to be laggy, which is exactly why I have been regularly off and on with custom launchers.

Just a while ago I decided to give GO Locker a chance because I am already using GO Launcher and I had grown tired, yet again, of stock Sense UI. A big reason I chose to go back to this mistress again is because I have found that GO Locker, at least for me, is the most consistent and quickest locker that I have used. So this week we are switching it up and busting out a theme for GO Locker called Four Key. With the new version of HTC’s Sense UI they introduced a locker that allows opening of selected actions or apps directly from the lock screen. Seeing as my phone is deemed too old to receive this update I am stuck looking for alternatives.

This brought me to Four Key with its center button that is simply dragged to either the unlock position or to the other three corners to open any application of my choosing. Most likely these applications will be the dialer, a text messaging app of choice, and either a camera or media player, but the options are entirely up to the user aside from the unlock panel which is always on the bottom of the circle. These custom apps open up with a snap and there is nary a hint of lag. As a theme, Four Key looks great and there are certainly no complaints there. It would be nice to change the clock font, but everything else from the transparency to the cool blue tones are excellent. There are not many options to fiddle with but all the core ones are present, which is really all that is necessary.

I was impressed by this theme’s swiftness and its ability to get out of the way if all I wanted to do was simply and quickly unlock my phone. The biggest test of a good launcher is not so much the bells and whistles but if it can get out of the way the moment the user wants it to. Fortunately, Four Key and GO Locker deliver where so many locker apps fall short.

Google to Bring More Visual Unification to Android Devices with new Ice Cream Sandwich Policy

Google to Bring More Visual Unification to Android Devices with new Ice Cream Sandwich Policy

Jan 4, 2012

Android manufacturers despise the stock Android experience. Why? Because if all Android phones were the same, why would people return to their brand? So, they introduce their own launchers and themes – Samsung has TouchWiz, HTC has Sense, to name a couple. The hope is that users get accustomed to that manufacturer’s customized experience, and then when their phone contract is up, they decide to stick with the brand.

However, Google wants to make sure that users can use the default Holo theme that is part of the stock Android 4.0 experience. Google is now requiring that devices that ship with Ice Cream Sandwich that also want access to the Android Market must offer access to the Holo theme that is the stock experience on ICS.

Carrier-customized themes will still be available, and apps have new mechanisms for which they can support these themes, through individual themes for the app based on which theme the user has selected.

The point of this move is quite simple: to help bring some uniformity to Android. Google wants users to be able to have the same experience no matter where they go, and for apps to be able to fit in with that experience, at least from a visual standpoint. They have a clear layout for what they want Android to be both functionally and visually with their Nexus devices, and from the curated experiences of Honeycomb tablets.

This move with Ice Cream Sandwich to help try and make the experiences more unified is ultimately good for users – it’s one of the greatest drawback of the operating system compared to iOS, where visual styles and mechanics are designed to be cohesive from service to service on the device. While Android by its nature is more open to theming and customization, it’s clear that Google is pushing for unification to some degree with their devices now, and users will be all the better off for it.