Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Followup: Zeo Sleep Manager Mobile

A few months ago, I wrote about my first experiences with the Zeo Sleep Managet Mobile. At the time, I was having connectivity issues with the Zeo. I had a difficult time getting the Zeo to connect to my mobile devices, and to stay connected.

I'm happy to report that after a firmware update the Zeo consistently pairs with my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and keeps the connection overnight. There is one caveat: I need to reconnect the Zeo before I go to sleep each night by turning bluetooth off and on again. This restart of bluetooth on my tablet is easy to do from the app, even if it does make the use of the Zeo a bit less graceful.

To be fair the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is not in Zeo's list of explicitly supported Android devices. This is a huge improvement over what I reported in November. Having had some experience with both mobile app development and mobile communication with bluetooth, I think they've made nice progress.

Ideas for Improvement

In use of the App, one feature I kept missing was the ability to log some data along with my sleep data. Zeo's marketing materials suggest that it is possible to perform experiments on your sleep quality. The prevalent example is to measure the effect of coffee consumption on sleep.

I don't see any way to record data or perform experiments within the app, one of the primary motivations behind my purchase. Since I'm a mobile app developer, it is difficult to bring myself to write this sort of data on paper. The indignity!

Technical Notes

One last thing: the firmware update to the headband wasn't the most relaxing thing in the world. On the Mac, it required the installation of a kernel extension. Scary.

I'm expect that new headbands are shipping with the latest firmware, and that no further updates will be needed. If so, this shouldn't be an issue for future users.

I bet I'll need to make another update on Zeo's progress as the product improves over the next few months. Cheers!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scary Business Metrics and Zappos

Metrics feel scary sometimes. The VP of Sales and Marketing at one startup I worked with was terrified of numeric accountability. He treated web traffic like a state secret. The number of potential customers spoken to? According to him, that's not important, and it's a secret anyhow.

Contrast that with Zappos. Zappos really faces numeric fear head on: they put call center stats on the wall where even silly tourists can see them! And then, when the tourists can see them, the guide stops and points at the darned thing. Oh no!

No fear here. The Zappos folks are excited about their numbers.

Zappos Call Statistics
Be sure to click on the photo to see the full sized version.

I think that putting a chart like this on the wall sends several messages:

  1. We're doing important stuff
  2. Improve these numbers and our business will improve
  3. Everyone is an active participants in the success of the business
  4. We won't be embarrassed if the numbers aren't perfect (check out the photo -- they answered phones faster last year)
  5. We're not so serious that we have to write "December" in one color

Put your numbers on the wall, tape some flowers on the top, and start building your business. Be sure to take the Zappos Insights tour next time you're in Las Vegas too. It shocked me how fun and inspiring it was!