AirPods - the coming wireless revolution

I've been using my voice to control my telephone since long before Siri was a thing.

 Back then you could only ask the iPhone for the time, or to play a song, or to dial a contact. But it worked! And I used it all the time while riding my longboard or bicycle, through the little microphone on the headphones.

Introducing Siri on the iPhone 4S

I actually used to use voice control on my old Sony Ericsson K790, but that was nightmarish. "Call Adam Perry... no CALL Adam PERRY.... call ADAM PERRY!!" 

Since Siri has joined me in my travels, the tasks I perform are much more complex. I use her to read and write text messages or emails almost daily. I dictate notes and reminders to her, and use her to set and change alarms and calendar entries. She tells me the weather and I often even get her to decide where I'm going to pick up lunch, or hardware supplies or to find me a drugstore that's open and positioned along the route I'm traveling. 

I often use Siri to figure out where I’m going to go to pick up dinner as I ride my scooter home...

Having a computer on your person that knows what time it is, what the traffic is like, and where you are at any given moment is tremendously helpful. I often say "Remind me of X when I get to work" and then as soon as I'm within ten meters of the office, PING! My friendly helper helps me take care of tasks when I need her to. 

Just yesterday, while riding home on my scooter I asked her to find me Soup. And she very politely offered me several options of places along with their relative distance and direction. "I found a soup restaurant called 'Soups and Stuff' 2.1 kms west of your location, on Adelaide Street. Would you like me to take you there?"


But, I admittedly still think natural voice computing is in it's infancy. Errors are rampant. Siri misunderstands me ALL THE TIME, depending on how loud traffic is around me. And I power through the awkward repetition because I fundamentally believe that this is the future of computing. And HATE pulling my phone out of my pocket and letting it's distraction filled screen get the better of me. And voice computing allows me to get what I need done, without letting the phone dictate what it, and it's myriad of social functions, wants me to do in order to generate ad revenue for it's partners. 

This is why (next to the kick ass camera) the most exciting thing to me about this year's Apple announcement, was the Air Pods.


To be clear: YES, they are ugly. And YES, they look VERY easy to loose. But the trade offs they offer: seamless wireless connectivity. Fast syncing and switching between devices. NO WIRES GETTING CAUGHT ON THE HANDLE-BARS OF MY SCOOTER or a door knob of the back of a chair, violently yanking the headphones out of my ears. No messy, tangled, DIRTY WHITE CORD stained blue by raw denim, coiled into the back left pocket of my jeans.

And it's not just the hope of a cable free life it's promising me. But it's the careful attention the devices will pay to me. Accelerometers inside the earbuds, compare the movement of my jaw to the sound signal they are receiving, and tune in more carefully to my intentions and vocalizations. Infrared sensors automatically turn the sound on an off as I plug them into my ears. A special chip designed to ensure the "handshake" between the Headphones and my Watch or my Phone remains unbroken and seamless. 

 How quickly our fiction is becoming reality these days... 

How quickly our fiction is becoming reality these days... 

This is computation beginning to seamlessly integrate with the human body in a way that's less obtrusive, less obnoxious and more liberating. No more walking around staring down at a screen trying to navigate to a place or landmark. Just lightly tap twice on the accelerometer enabled ear bud to have Siri perk up instantly, awaiting your query.

I can't wait to get my hands on a pair of this stupid looking things! Can not wait.

Cyborg Drummer!!

SO COOL!! Is it ok to call this gentleman a Cyborg? I got really excited by this video. It's obviously right up my alley. But I'm also sensitive to the fact that my fervent enthusiasm could be a detriment around a more sensitive audience. Ultimately, as my career allows me to get closer to more patients, I will grow to deal with this more appropriately. For now I'm just a fan, flipping out at a distance as I see incredible and inspiring feats of advancement in human-machine integration.  Sorry for calling you a Cyborg, if you don't want to be called it. But I mean it out of pure awe and affection!

Touch sensation in Prosthetics

I feel like every 2 months I read a story about a new prosthetic that promises to restore the sense of touch in a patient. What makes this one any different? 

More and more as I move towards a career in human-machine integration, I realize it's the Humanity that draws me in. It's not about turning us into machines... but making the machines in our image!

Look at the face of that man on the right. It's the connection. The sensation that moves us forward into our inevitable singularity. 

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 10.23.40 AM.png

SO. That's what prompted me to post about this Gizmodo Story that I found retweeted by my friends from INVIVO on Twitter

Sure, it also had the mandatory "Star Wars" reference in the title. (Another reference to my theory that my prosthetics obsession was born in a Movie Theatre in Saint John New Brunswick. Galvanized by the blade of Darth Vader's Light Sabre slicing off his son, Luke's arm. Both terrifying and inspiring 5 year old me.) But beyond that, it was the faces of humanity that struck me hard enough to cut through the cognitive clutter we call the Internet. 

Here's the New Scientist video from the Gizmodo story. I haven't even watched it yet. I'll check it out tonight when I get home. 

New hand gettings a bit closer...

You know? For someone who calls himself an optimist, I've certainly grown very critical into my early thirties. I think you can be both though. Hopefully optimistic for the future, while analytically combing through articles such as this one? Scouring the text for clues of marketing jargon, or over-promised revolutions that can't possibly be delivered? Those two ideals can co-exist can't they? 

Right away the articles title gets me. "A Sensational Breakthrough"... Sounds fishy. Too sensationalized to be true? Then "the first bionic hand that can feel" continues the title. WOW. So the hand has sensors in it that can transmit electrical impulses at a frequency that human nerves can interpret? I shall read on!

The photo is VERY arresting. Certainly got my inner trans-humanist gear-headed heart pumping.

It is beautiful, isn't it?

One doesn't need to read too far into the article before it's outrageous initial claims are brought down to earth. The hand is to be pilot tested an unnamed male patient's residual limb. The controls for the hand are to be connected to the patient's remaining nerves, with the hope that he will be able to feel some sense of touch, as well as control the hand with his mind. This, as the title of my post says, is a bit closer to a true mind controlled prosthesis. But what the article doesn't explicitly state and what I have to assume is that this mind control will still be a matter of vague concentration around the phantom limb, resulting in simple binary control of a selected number of the digits. I presume also that 100% success on touch input for this first trial will also be limited to "on or off". That is so say, it's output (and thus input in the wearers mind) will be there or not there. There will be no measure of sensitivity. The patient will simply know if the hand is making contact with something, or it's not. 

The optimist in me is very hopeful that this will work! And that the signal sent from the hand will be comfortable and useful for this young man.  

I'm surprised they decided to make a press release BEFORE the surgery. They must be in need of funding. (My inner critic has a bad habit of making wild assumptions.) The hand shown in the first two images of this article is GORGEOUS. However, the grainy image of what appears to be a different hand in the this third picture is suspect to me. 

 Hmmm... Why does this one look so bad? 

Hmmm... Why does this one look so bad? 

Either way, I'm very excited just to hear that this is even going to be attempted, and will certainly be doing more research into this company.

DIY Prosthetics

Well, I may have lost my two-days-long ranting post about the Do It Yourself Environment Sensing Prosthetics Workshop I'd attended, but that hasn't stopped the topic from staying front & centre in my sensor range! 

A few posts have popped up in the usual places where I watch for such inspirations. While the title of this first one is a bit mis-leading, it certainly serves the highlight the amazing advances in the DIY movement. 3D printing and other such miraculous non-sense are serving to better empower the end user to play an integral part of their own prosthetic therapies. Custom made solutions are becoming more and more then norm. 

Here we see a Teen-ager who, motivated only by his own curiosity has built a "Brain Controlled" prosthesis. Why the quotations around brain controlled? Well, I have a personal benchmark for what Brain Controlled really means. It's not enough for an EKG meter to be strapped to your temples measuring rises & dips in relative brain activity. I'm holding out for the day when a patient can think about moving their arm as if it still exists in it's fleshy form, and a prosthetic replacement will respond just like the flesh one would have. So yes, this young genius did hook his invention up to an EKG and an old Nintendo Power Glove (props for nostalgia!) and his results are astounding. 

Click on the photo to check it out! (link opens in new window)

 CAD rendering of Easton LaChappelle's arm design

CAD rendering of Easton LaChappelle's arm design

The other story that really got my attention recently comes from a site I was turned on to by the organizers of the DIY Prosthetics workshop called Thingiverse. Thingiverse is by the folks at Makerbot and is a resource share for open source 3D printer CAD files. There's a project hosted over there by the people who started Coming Up Short Handed, a cleverly titled blog chronicling the challenges of building a DIY, body powered prosthesis for a young boy who was born with no fingers on one hand. 

There are a lot of things about this story that are remarkable... including the facts that the two men who have designed and built the hand together live 10,000 miles apart, and saw fit to share the design as open-source! But the real clincher is seeing just how naturally little Liam us operating his hand after his 3rd day with it! 

Here's the video of him using it, and click the image of the hand bellow to visit the Thingiverse page! 

 This design has been downloaded 2042 times!

This design has been downloaded 2042 times!

SquareSpace - a tough lesson in User Experience

The older I get, the more I realize how important EMOTION is in interaction design. Software, hardware or any other device needs to make you FEEL GOOD

A month ago, I spent two days crafting a blog post on here about a DIY Environment Sensing Prosthetics workshop I had attended. It was an old-timey Peej post with LOTS of fervent emotion and swirling descriptive ramblings. 

I mistakenly published the post before I had finished it, while I was trying to embed images in the text. (two buttons, Save and Save & Publish are easy to confuse at a glance.) Not wanting the post to be live and wishing it to return to it's draft save state, I hit the only available "negative action" button that this template site offers. The "disguard" button didn't ask me to confirm anything, or warn me that the post would be forever lost. It simply and immediately erased my two days worth of work. 

Was it my mistake? Yes. Should the system have a failsafe put in place to prevent a person from permanently deleting their work? Double yes! A simple "This is going to hurt you, are you sure?" dialogue would suffice. I contacted SquareSpace technical support, and they informed me my content was permanently discarded. Could not be recovered. 

So a post I had spent days saving, was gone. 

In the mobile computing world, and especially iOS, I'm used to a machine that learns and supports me in my creative endeavors. Photos from instagram are doubled up in my photo album for safe keeping. And the spell checker only tries to correct a word once, before heeding to my misspelled desires. In an ever increasingly accommodating world filled with pleasing emotional creative experiences, I have little room left for a bad user experience. 

The truth is: loosing that blog post took the creative wind out of my blogging sails. Am I being entitled and over-sensitive? Yes. But I pay to use this website. I don't think it's unreasonable for me to expect it to work smart

I'm making THIS post in a hope that it will unblock the stink-face annoyance that I've been feeling about loosing that other post. Here's hoping I will be motivated to clear this rant from the front face of my blog in favour of more productive content. 

In the meantime SquareSpace, fix your user experience or risk loosing us all to cutom Wordpress sites! 


2013 is going to be a fantastically exciting year! I'm working on a really promising project involving a real med-device company and the future of self-diagnostic computing. Time to dust off this blog & bring it up to speed!

Know where we've been, to see where we're going.

History is important. Through the study of past events, and especially the patterns that repeat throughout, one can actually get a fairly accurate projection of the future! Lately I've been so obsessive about my future that I've not taken enough time to look back at the past. So in that vein, I've collected some inspiring images of vintage prosthetics. This exercise has revealed to me some artifacts of great beauty and inspiration. As it has also reminded me that the goal I now pursue is one with a storied history. A legacy of ingenuity in the face of great hardship and adversity. 

So let's have a look, shall we?


Relaunch - First post on the new blog!

 Wicked looking, isn't it? :^D

Wicked looking, isn't it? :^D

Clichéd, I know... but I have troubles with "first steps", so I've learned to keep them simple. Just get SOMETHING posted. 

What's obsessing me lately? What's prompted me to make this post? Well, for one; I still have all of my arms and legs. And I still don't know when it's appropriate to use a semi-colon. So I need to brush up on a few skills, and get a few things off my chest and into the cloud. 

Let's get this photo off my desktop too! 

I'm obsessing over the design of artificial limbs lately. And feel like I'm blessed enough to have all ten fingers and better type about what's interesting me while I can! 


My father sent me a link to this video yesterday, and I've yet to watch it, until this moment. It's pretty spot on so far.  


WELL... how's that for synchronicity... The leg fairing in the photo that's been sitting on my desktop for months, (that I had found in my web travels and saved for it's intrinsic inspiration and motivation) was designed by the guy in the video my Dad sent me today!


Moments of synchronicity like these are the beacons of my creativity. Like light houses that blink comfortably through the fog of the everyday.

I went from being an Illustrator, to a Graphic Designer, to a Web Designer to a User Experience Designer... there's no reason I can't eventually follow my heart into designing for the future of Posthumanity!

{I guess this sets a tone for this blog!}

Kids don't know they're supposed to be sad...

Take a look at this photo:

It's a startling contrast eh? If you ever saw a photo of an adult who'd just had a quadruple amputation to save their life & were in a hospital bandaged & hooked up to machines, they're usually not this jovial. And that's understandable... This child is only a year & a half old. She has no experience to allow her mind to grasp the concept of the difficulties she'll need to face in order to overcome her disabilities. My realist Girlfriend scoffed a bit at my excitement when I showed her the photo, saying; "of COURSE she's happy. She doesn't know how hard her life is going to be." But does it HAVE to be? If the people around her treat her like there's nothing wrong with her, and only expect the best, won't she be more well equipped to rise to that occasion? Rather than being coddled and made to think she needs to feel sorry for herself? There's a certain zen perfection in her smile. A potential that most people rarely see in their own lives. If handled correctly... This girl's disabilities, could become her abilities!

Fast forward several years, and it looks like her family did right by her!

Check out the little Blade Runner!

Her name is Ellie Challis. She's a Scottish, soccer playing, running, laughing child. And she's also the youngest to ever have a pair of custom fitted Carbon Fibre Gazel Legs. She's also an ABOVE THE KNEE amputee, which makes her running achievements even more astounding.

Here she is with Oscar Pistorius. A bellow the knee amputee who's used these carbon super legs to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics... Not the special olympics... the ACTUAL olympics. (the jury is still out on weather he's legally allowed to compete!)

He and Ellie are part of a new breed of amputees who are finally reaching a point where the disability, is becoming a super ability!

Why am I talking about it? Well... for a very long time as some know already, I've had an obsession with the idea of prosthesis design. And lately the idea is becoming so loud in my mind that I can't ignore it. So I'm seeking out inspiration, and this little girl gave me a heaping helping of it today.

You can read more about her story here:

Brave girl plays football with no legs.

Five year old is youngest to ever have carbon flex foot legs.

And also the story of how South African blade runner Oscar Pistorious qualified for London 2012:

Oh Boy, it's been a while

Hello there Blogger account.... it's been a while, hasn't it?

Wow. So much to rant about! Is this the right time to write? The write time?

A lot has happened... I won't get too much into it, other than to say, I'm inspired. An old dream that my inner critic tried to kill off a few years ago has resurfaced, and as I've learned: this means it's worth pursuing.

I will design prosthesis. More importantly, I will change the way people think about prosthesis.

As an analytical thinker, who's been through a lot of professional counseling in his life, I am capable of very detailed introspection. I'm able to retrace ideas and thoughts and obsessions back to their root cause. Though much of this introspection, I've come to realize lately, that a great ambition in my life has been fuelled by a pivotal scene in one of my favourite childhood movies: The Empire Strikes Back.

In this scene, the protagonist, Luke Skywalker looses his hand. This hand is later replaced with a prosthetic (robotic) hand. Having my hand replaced by a prosthesis has been a recurring theme in many of my dreams, for as long as I can remember, I used to fear it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but now conclude the much more innocent and banal reasoning of this movie scene having a powerful impact on my mind in it's formative infancy. (I was only 2 years old when my Father took me to see this movie in Theaters)

Whatever planted the seed: it's flourished in my fertile imagination.

I'm also blessed with a sufferably powerful sense of empathy, and a terrifying curiosity. One that would often see me spellbound by any sort of medical enhancement or prosthesis I would encounter in my life. I used to cringe at the fleshy plastic hearing aid a child would be forced to wear. Or the eerie "doesn't quite match" colour of an artificial hand or foot. Why do we give such consideration to the beauty and charm of an optional enhancement product like an iPod or cellphone, and offer none of these considerations to things seen as necessary artificial components?

Why can't that hearing aid be a gorgeous blue anodized aluminum? Why can't an artificial robot hand be the envy of a classroom full of children? Why doesn't a prosthetic arm have replaceable vanity faceplates?

I'm 30 now. Dreams like this aren't a matter of simple conversation starters. Or the subject of late-night ramblings with captive and willing audience members. This is my purpose. It's my higher calling. And I must pursue it. My life, happiness, future all depend on my heeding the call that my brain has been making in seeming vein to me all these years.

I'm not going to let the excitement of this post eat up too much more of this afternoon. I have things to do. Like calling the Sunnybrook hospital volunteer line again in the hopes of setting up a schedule!

Here's Aimee Mullins, leading the charge: