What defines the best lapel microphone is its efficiency and reliability with AI backed software. Most of the time, it’s not enough to simply record a note to self, as it’s only the tip of the iceberg. After the audio is stored in the cloud, it better not just sit there. When you pick up the recorder, you should expect to get more than an audio track.
Early attempts at speech to text technology were wobbly like the very first steps of a baby. Since then, it has grown and learned how to run and leap. Things that would have been deemed impossible a few years ago are taken for granted by pretty much everyone, and the progress shows no signs of stopping.
We have made it our mission to deliver Senstone users the most advanced experience in speech-to-text conversion to date. Senstone records audio at 16 kHz and translates it into text on the fly, storing it alongside the respective MP3 recording. This way you’ll never miss a memo.
The transcript is automatically spell-checked by artificial intelligence. Apart from the standard functionality where the AI makes sure the individual words are spelled correctly, Senstone has been trained to weed out any and all grammatical blunders. Your transcript might need a few edits to expand on a subject or insert a remark, but you’ll never find a stray spelling mistake or jumbled word order. The text is good to go, right off the bat.
Sounds good? Sure it does!
But wait, it gets even better.
With Senstone, not only can you convert speech to text, but you get a true digital assistant. The more you use the recorder, the more our artificial intelligence grows accustomed to your unique speech patterns and words you tend to use most often.
Do you often use proper nouns even Wikipedia knows little about? Do you make heavy use of technical terms? Tired of correcting the autocorrect on your phone? You won’t see Senstone make the same mistake.
Your vocabulary is stored as a personal dictionary which you can view and edit at your leisure. Basically, you can fine-tune the recorder to suit your personal style.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
– Arthur C. Clarke
What we are trying to achieve is a perfectly seamless experience; no mediators between you and your fulfilled expectations. You expect magic – you get magic, no in-betweens. We love it when you refuse to lower the bar!
You can buy a premium subscription now and gain access to the full benefits of working with Senstone. The subscription plan is flexible, and you can cancel any time if you want.
We offer three types of subscription:
Our offer includes full technical support, as well as access to all the advanced features of the digital assistant. Hold the power of the AI and intelligent processing at your fingertips: automatic spelling and punctuation checking, reliable voice-to-text transcription in 12 languages, personal dictionary, tagging and highlights, cloud storage, export and sharing options, and many more will help you get the most out of Senstone.
If you want to learn more, visit the home page of this website or subscribe to our newsletter.
A wearable voice recorder, or a mere notion of it, may incite the pictures of lapel microphones or spy gadgets in our imagination, but very few people would imagine a device like Senstone. A labour of love supported by thousands of backers on Kickstarter, it is as futuristic as it is innovative.
The device itself looks like a decorative button. Intended to be clipped to a collar or worn as a pendant, it is perfectly hands- and screen-free. You can start recording by a single tap on the device. All audio is processed and then transcribed into a text document.
What we are especially interested in, however, is the Senstone app – the ‘home quarters’ where all recordings can be viewed and managed to match your preferences.
As it is, we have decided to compare Senstone App to a typical Notepad App to see which one is better and test whether Senstone is as good as it has been described to us by a couple of resident geeks and productivity enthusiasts.
Round 1: Speech to Text.
Senstone: option present. Transcription is automatic; the resulting text is processed by the AI, spell checked, grouped into sentences and paragraphs, and saved in the app.
Notepad: option unavailable.
Senstone – Notepad: 1 : 0
Round 2: Design.
Minimalism and intuitive UI is the golden standard for recording apps and time management products. All our contestants possess the clear, distinct interface we expect from productivity tools. Each option is exactly what it says on the tin, and the general design is both aesthetically pleasing and unobtrusive.
This round is even.
Senstone – Notepad: 2 : 1
Round 3: Organisation and Output Management.
The absolute majority of notepad apps are incapable of audio recording, so we can only speak of file management in general.
For Senstone, both MP3 files containing user’s audio recordings and their transcripts are initially stored in the cloud accessed from the app. You can download the files; you can also rename, copy, or delete them, as well as apply tags to organise your notes into groups and edit the transcripts however you wish.
Similar to Senstone, Notepad has the basic standard features like saving, editing, search, et cetera. However, it lacks the tagging system, which does nothing to streamline file organisation. Some notepads do have prioritization but it seems limited in comparison.
Another feature, important enough to warrant a separate paragraph, is the personal dictionary. While Notepad has no such functionality, we think the feature, present in Senstone, is extremely useful.
Senstone – Notepad: 3 : 1
Round 4: Export and Sharing.
The most basic form of export is the copy and paste functionality present in any smartphone. It works for text notes and transcripts but exporting audio can be a little tricky.
When it comes to sharing files between users or apps, Senstone wins in all respects: you can quickly mark the last week entries and share them via WhatsApp, Telegram, or another messenger of choice, or send them to email in a matter of seconds.
Senstone – Notepad: 4 : 1
Round 5, Final: Convenience and Price/Quality Ratio.
You can buy premium subscription and gain access to the full range of features offered by the Senstone assistant, with the option to cancel any time. Monthly, quarterly, and half year subscription plans are available. No ads.
Notepad apps, on the other hand, can boast neither of the advantages. The free ones are usually overflowing with ads and lack all but the most basic features. They might be a quick and dirty alternative to a scrap of paper but little more.
Senstone – Notepad: 5 : 1
And so, Senstone app wins! A clean sweep if there is one.
We hope you have found this little contest as engaging as we did. The world of productivity apps is certainly growing more diverse as developers invent more and more ingenious ways to improve on the concept.
Involved in production of media know that the black button mounted on somebody’s tie is but a tip of the iceberg. In its true form, a lavalier microphone, or lav, is a tangled mess of wires beneath the speaker’s clothes. Its transmitter can be found anywhere on a person, from their back under the shirt, to the inside of their thigh, or even smartly fixed on their shoe (no, really). A technical necessity for media workers, it all seems rather unusual to an outsider – the microphones we’re used to are confined to phones and recorders.
Benefits of Lapel Microphones:
The main advantage to using a lapel mic is that you can move around however you wish while wearing it, getting the best from both worlds. This powerful principle, brilliant in its simplicity, has been working for media speakers for almost a century, so why can’t we apply it in our day to day life?
And the answer is: we are getting there.
The same way lav mics had transformed a reporter’s life in the thirtieth, wearable wireless tech has been revolutionizing recording for millions of businesspeople who need the efficiency of a lapel microphone but reject the inconvenient wiring.
How to use lapel microphone
Wearable recorders, such as Senstone, use a smartphone in place of the conventional transmitter and Bluetooth for cords. Just like a lav, Senstone can be mounted onto the lapel or a collar, or even passed for a pendant. It’s accessible, extremely user-friendly, and doesn’t require technical expertise.
So how can lapel microphones impact the productivity of a busy person? Are they only reserved for reporters?
One often cited example is the study conducted in the 80s at the Cornell University. The seemingly insignificant factor of whether the speaker could move their hands during presentation turned out to drastically improve retention of information.
In our everyday life, where we mostly record things for our ears only and relatively few people present public speeches on regular basis, a wireless, portable lapel recorder can be no less valuable than a lav mic is to your average TV anchor.
How come? The reasons are simple and relatable. Some of them:
Both your hands are free
No wires and ports
No more of the ‘find the phone – see notifications – get distracted’
Fewer screens and buttons
Also, if you take Senstone, there is the tempting option of dictation via the speech-to-text technology which effectively transforms the recorder into a personal assistant. This makes it much easier to monitor progress and take stock of your general efficiency, as well as allows for backups and flexible file management. Recordings can be tagged, shuffled around, shared and edited on the fly – and nothing affects productivity quite as much as the sheer speed of data transmission.
As we can see when we look at the current trends in audio recording devices, the market is growing more diverse, and it has come a long way from tape recorders and unwieldy “portable” microphones to lapel mics and portable assistants which are all designed to make sound recording as easy and casual as one tap of a button. All associated benefits to workplace productivity leave no doubt that wearable gadgets are here to stay, and they keep getting better and better. If you are looking to improve your efficiency and focus, this is one of the directions you are going to find interesting and rather refreshing.
Before each of us may one day rise sharply the question of how to convert audio file to text or decrypt it with a minimum of effort on our part.Decoding of audio files is a tedious and not the most pleasant task. But we are living in a technology age, which means we have many options to transcribe audio files.
Decoding records increases the perception of content. This is due to the fact that a significant part of Internet users have rather poor audio playback speed, or they better perceive information in the form of text. In addition, do not forget about the importance of textual factors for the search. Despite the obvious benefits of transcription, many reject it, citing a lack of resources and opportunities.
There are people who hate voice messaging. Read the text and see if there is anything useful and interesting there, often faster than listening to five-minute audio. Many of us prefer texts in many situations: when they are in public places without headphones and at work. Owners of sites that constantly post audio content should remember those who, for one reason or another, cannot view or listen to information. But can read it.
Problems when creating text material arise for a number of reasons:
interference during recording;
Fortunately, technology is improving and tools are getting better every day. With their help, you can achieve accuracy of 80% or even 90%, which undoubtedly saves your time.
Recently, a voice recorder is often used to record meetings or negotiations. The pluses include a higher accuracy of the recording, the ability to record the statements of several simultaneously speaking participants in the meeting (this happens when there are contradictions at the meeting or when time is limited, each hurry to express their opinion).A professional voice recorder Senstone is a device for recording oral speech for the purpose of further reproduction and transcription.
The voice recorder is best suited for journalists and correspondents who are always on the move and often do personal interviews or reports from the scene. Moreover, not only professionals often need it, but also ordinary users in their daily lives.
Want to work faster and more efficiently? Use your voice instead of recordings manually? Go to Senstone – the solution is right for you. Easy to manage, this device provides maximum efficiency for your daily work. No matter where you are – in a meeting, in the office or on the go.
Its ability to transcribe is fairly remarkable — in quiet environments, it accurately translated long sentences to text fairly quickly with hardly any errors. The app is well-designed and lets you edit translated text in case there are some errors.
Because you wear the device, Senstone is more efficient than paper and pen or even a smartphone app. From there, Senstone automatically converts your speech into text and organizes your notes. Using its speech-to-text technology, the device automatically writes down whatever you need it to.Think of it as a hands-free digital notepad.
Despite the popularization of audio content, a text document will always win as in the preparation of documents. Contrary to all, transcription or, in other words, the translation of audio into text, is a service in demand to this day.
Senstone is an easy-to-use voice recorder that guarantees best-in-class speech recognition in any situation. The sound recorder is ideal for recording short notes or long conversations, lectures, interviews or meetings. Regardless of your needs, you will always have a digital sound recorder at your fingertips that perfectly copes with the task of any complexity.
Often we can think about how to take meeting notes in a quality and professional manner. And the answer is: with the help of voice recorder note taker Senstone. Technologies are developing at a very fast pace and are becoming smarter, therefore, we can say for sure that over time the penetration of voice assistants will only increase. People quickly get used to things that provide them with a fundamentally new level of comfort and convenience and open up new horizons.And voice recorder note taker Senstone gives us these possibilities.
To manage to record a bright new idea, people use improvised means: notebooks, stickers, random papers and even their own palms. We should not forget about the attributes of the digital age – special mobile applications. But it’s not always convenient to get your smartphone out of your pocket, so the Senstone team offers a solution to this problem through the use of a gadget, which turns a voice message into text in a matter of seconds.
Smart voice recorders are very popular devices that are convenient in many situations. They can serve as a convenient personal notebook for recording meetings notes, lectures, and can also be used by journalists during interviews or scientific applications.
If even 10-15 years ago, voice recorders were in demand by a narrow circle of those for whom it was exclusively a professional necessity (journalists, writers, secret services), then modern voice recorders have significantly expanded the audience of their fans. Today, their customers are students , researchers, businessmen, top managers, doctors ,ordinary citizens , etc.
Analog cassette recorders have sunk into oblivion – digital recording has long proved to users its undeniable advantage in many important qualitative and quantitative criteria. A modern voice recorder is a real work of digital art, a multifunctional miniature device, simple and easy to operate with incredible, at first glance, capabilities.
The main reason for this growth in popularity and audience was the constant improvement of voice recorders in such areas as:
• quality recording and playback features;
• simplicity and ease of management.
Senstone has created a device for recording voice notes and their decoding, which can be worn as a brooch, pendant or part of a bracelet. To take a note, just click on Senstone.To complete the recording, you need to click on the gadget again: it decrypts the recorded speech of the owner and stores it in the format of notes on the smartphone. Synchronization occurs via Bluetooth. If you cannot save the note on the smartphone, Senstone will send it to its internal memory, which holds up to two hours of voice notes.
According to the idea of the creators, the gadget helps not to miss the idea that it is not possible to fix in other ways. People often find it inconvenient to get a smartphone, and they do not record what they thought about. Senstone allows you to take notes during a meeting, on a run, behind the wheel, and so on.Created notes, reminders and tasks can be easily organized with the help of hashtags and by content, time, location and even emotional coloring.
Senstone is the last word in the direction of compact multifunction voice recorders. Its weight, size and capabilities are astounding. This is the latest innovation in this digital technology segment – a real dream for all who need a miniature, as easy as possible to manage, reliable voice recorder with high quality indicators.
In a boardroom, a meeting recorder can save you a lot of time and money. In your car, that same recorder can capture an idea as soon as it strikes you. Planning and shifting schedule, dictating memos on the fly – a good recorder is good for everything.
In this article, we have compiled a top 10 list of devices you could use as a digital meeting recorder.
Some of these recorders are equipped with voice recognition software, and some are quite basic. Either way, they all excel at their job.
Best Voice Recorders for a Meeting
We feel portability and immediate access are truly what makes a digital meeting recorder shine. With this in mind, a wearable voice recorder Senstone is everything a busy person could wish for. Although not a top-range multitrack recorder, it has a serious advantage over conventional devices.
wearable voice recorder
hands- and screen-free
speech-to-text technology for instantaneous transcription
Cutting edge technology in voice capture, this device lives up to the name of a Pro recorder. A great specimen of the top-range digital recorders with plenty of features.
the maximum SPL is 140 dB
no built-in SD card, but there is a slot for it
excellent quality overall
The list has been made with the implication that what you are looking for is a recording device for meetings and business in general. This means it focuses on voice recording rather than music or ambient sounds. If you need something else, remember to pay attention to the parameters such as memory capacity, battery life, OS compatibility, and audio quality.
Voice memos on your phone are useful for all kinds of things, such as notes, interviews, and other everyday tasks. Once you get the hang of its workings, a voice recorder app is hard to quit: it makes life so much easier and you get used to it almost immediately.
How To Record A Voice Memo
What is a voice memo? Of course, it’s the audio file you can play, or save, or move around, but there is more about the term. It implies speed and efficiency, as well as a certain degree of personalization. You can even say a memo is a message to yourself. Naturally, there are a multitude of ways to record a voice memo. First of all, you are going to need a voice recorder app, or a memo app, or a voice recorder online, or a digital recorder. This is where it gets interesting: these days, the sheer amount of options is overwhelming! A voice recorder like Senstone is your best bet in that you don’t have to look for your phone. To record a memo, the first step normally is to open your app of choice and tap the “record” button. To pause, tap it again. To stop and save the file, tap the “stop” button marked by a square. Alternatively, if you own a voice activated recorder, you can set it up to automatically start recording as soon as it detects a sound louder than a preset voice activation level and stop recording when the volume falls. The downside to this method is that sound detection can be unreliable. A simple background noise or a sudden change in distance or volume (moving around the room, whispering) might make the recorder switch off and miss something important. With Senstone, however, it all comes down to one press of the button on the device, and it will take care about the rest. This way, you can record your voice whenever and wherever you want.
How To Delete Part Of A Memo
Now and then, voice memos need some minor editing. Maybe, you want to cut out a fragment, or get rid of dead air – regardless, it’s easy to do so. Select the “Edit” option in the menu. You are going to be presented with a timeline of the audio file. Move two pointers on the timeline to mark the points where you want it to start and end. If you want to edit a transcribed memo in the Senstone app, just open it and tap the “Edit” option below the text. Apart from the contents of a memo, you can also edit the associated tags and location. To delete a memo, tap the “Delete” option at the very bottom of the screen.
Share A Voice Memo
After you’ve recorded something, you might need to know how to send the voice memo, and you can share it – either with somebody else or across your other devices. In case an app you’re sharing the file with doesn’t support the playback of other common audio formats, you might also need to know how to convert a voice memo to mp3. With Senstone, however, you might never need the conversion. To share a recording, tap a “Share” icon for the entry you would like to send. Then choose an app from the pop-up menu. You can also copy the transcript of your memo to the clipboard and paste it in any text field on the device. All in all, most sound recorder apps, from a free sound recorder by a college student to a top-notch paid suite, share the same basic principles and universal icons, such as a trash can for “delete” and a pencil for “edit”. Senstone is no exception, making it easy for anyone to jump right in and start using the app without having to read the manual. We hope this little article was helpful. Good luck!
Many of us constantly work with e-mails or shared documents, all of us are rewritten in messengers, without noticing, we devote a lot of time to typing. However, we can speak much faster – about 3 times — than type. Technology not only opened up new opportunities for us, but completely changed the way of life and the habits that developed decades before. And here we get acquainted with voice typing, which significantly speeds up the process of typing.
This is a way of typing in which, using a microphone, your speech is converted into text. Speech recognition software that is used in voice-to-text allows us to speed up work and increase productivity in the office, at home and in between. This more practical than reprinting – after all, we always speak faster than we write.
Why did a written speech appear at all? In ancient times, there was no other way to convey information to next generations or peers. The first typing devices were designed and patented in the 1700s while the first manufactured typing devices came about in the 1870s. Today young people have the opportunity to record thoughts instead of typing them. And computer interfaces will increasingly come closer to the usual human way of communication and be controlled by voice.
Voice typing simplifies the work of many people who deal with large amounts of information every day. Convert voice notes into text is useful for:
educators (researchers, professors),
bloggers, leading sites and blogs,
writers, journalists for writing books and texts,
business people (sales, “reporting” professions)
We like to communicate the way we do it every day — in voice, but we don’t stop and think that entering text through the keyboard is unnatural. Think how you are more comfortable typing a long message: print or say? This is why technology companies start more and more relying on bots and voice assistants — they expect that in the future we will solve most of the issues during the conversation with the help of our voice.
This method is the only existing alternative to typing with the keyboard. To many, this will seem like a myth or a hard-to-reach solution. But today, voice printing is real and quite affordable. This phenomenon is no longer perceived as fiction. You can also use this method in your work.
“21st century note-taking device” exists. Senstone is a stylish pendant that can transform voice notes into text. This device is in the form of a pendant around the neck, capable of translating voice into text. It converts voice recording to text with an accuracy of 97% and supports 12 languages. The memory module allows him to record conversations for 2.5 hours. This is the easiest way to place the device as close to your mouth as possible. It can hear well at a distance of 20 cm.
Now Senstone ‘understands’ 12 languages. In addition to English, it supports German, Italian, Japanese, two versions of Chinese, Arabic, French, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and a couple of languages. Senstone is “a product for students, journalists, engineers, doctors, writers, and creators who want to capture and act upon their ideas.”
Speech recognition devices have become one of the most discussed topics in the global technology market. The era of specialized systems with voice commands is just beginning. So, from the above, we can conclude that progress is not stand on the spot, from the tedious and monotonous reprinting of texts manually, we “re-qualified” into a voice set of text with the help of a conveniently clipped Senstone.
The idea of a smart voice recorder would be unthinkable not twenty years ago, but now it’s becoming a reality. Audio recorders went from magnetic tape to the digital era, and it’s high time for another leap. So how is it ‘smart’? Is there a reason why conventional doesn’t cut it anymore?
When talking about what is a good voice recorder, let us start with the number 2.94. According to the recent market report, 2.94 billion is the expected value of the digital voice recorder market by the year 2025. That’s more than double its value in 2017. Interesting; now that almost everyone has a smartphone with some sort of built-in recording app, shouldn’t the numbers be dwindling?
If we look close to the ground (for example, on Amazon ), then we’ll see that recording devices transform: they become smaller and come with very specific features designed to strive for speed and convenience. The smaller, the quicker – the better are the reviews, the higher the popularity score. The principle in action is that a voice recorder, no matter specifications, is only useful when it’s efficient and user-friendly.
«A voice recorder, no matter specifications, is only useful when it’s efficient and user-friendly»
With the recorder like Senstone this principle can be taken even further. It beats traditional digital recorders of the past, and it beats the recorders which attempt to stay traditional even as the market is naturally following the shift in technology. All in all, Senstone is what a voice recorder would look like if it were invented from scratch in 2020.
It’s the size of a pendant (and you can wear it as one, too), because pocket size just isn’t enough in the age of AirPods. To compare, a miniature recorder from the 1950s [http://www.pimall.com/nais/pivintage/phonotrixportable.html] weighed ‘only’ a little over 1 kg (2 ¼ lbs)
Full use of resources. Senstone talks to your smartphone, and its app offers multiple options to tweak at will. Instead of cables and wires, you get seamless transition between smartphone and recorder
Hands-free, screen-free; what’s the catch? There’s none, and the screen-free functionality isn’t a special mode or an afterthought
Dictation & audio recording. Both transcript and audio are accessible anytime, safely stored in secure cloud to prevent data loss
To live up to its name, the ‘smart’ in smart voice recorder should stand for ‘flexible’, for the accommodation to the users’ needs first and foremost; Senstone is that but also much more.
A portable audio recorder is always expected to have a number of specific features, reasonably so; but it all boils down to one button: press once to start recording, speak into the microphone. The rest of the functions are dormant until you need them and can be considered secondary. Senstone takes care of the issue. Instead of getting in the way, buttons appear when you need them, conveniently contained within the smartphone, the Swiss Army knife of our time.
«To live up to its name, the ‘smart’ in smart voice recorder should stand for ‘flexible’; Senstone is that but also much more»
Not only does Senstone allow to forego the USB cable to upload audios and transcripts immediately, it also has the thing many people take for granted: support of multiple audio formats. A non-standard format can be a serious bump on the road, especially if you have to spend precious time looking up a suitable online audio converter. Olympus’ proprietary DSS might be useful in some cases, but the good ol’ MP3 is the universal format these days.
This way, the reimagined version of the voice recorder should be:
portable like a coin, definitely more portable than the phone
hands-free and as button-less as possible
fitted with the text-to-speech transcription
fitted with its own app and synchronization options
I must say from the very beginning: the publication of this train of thoughts is long overdue. For me it all started quite a few years ago, before I started thinking about Senstone. I was watching Black Mirror series for the first time. Remember that episode with the guy living in the cubicle with screens everywhere? He couldn’t even shut his eyes without being penalised for not watching an advertisement or one of those disgustingly infinite shows.
Do you remember how the episode ends? The protagonist, after a long battle with the system, gets a reward – a flat with a screen free window with a view on the tropical forest outside.
Nowadays, in our interconnected world, screens are everywhere. They are almost impossible to dodge. Smartphones, computers, smartwatches, outdoor advertising… We need screens for work, we need them for leisure. We use them to make money, to talk to friends, to play with our kids, to have fun, etc. But, honestly, one of the main “activities” we use screens for is doing, well, nothing. And this very sort of “activity” is probably the most curious of all. How come we are spending so many hours glued to the screen doing nothing?
But there’s more. There is this popular opinion about the world around us not being worth our attention. Like, at all. Since, you know, this world has poor interface. It needs to be improved by the Augmented or even the Virtual Reality. Wearing AR/VR glasses allows screens to control human sight, pretty much making their owner a powerless object in the real world.
So, the question arises: Do we use screens to achieve our goals, or are we simply hooked to them, engulfed with the visual stimuli of the screen-centered digital era?
If this is the way humans are supposed to be in the future…
….then why are all those trends centred around maximising the real life digital-free experience gaining popularity? I mean all those “mindfulness” techniques, all those famous chefs, “slow food” apostles, messing around the kitchen cooking meals (like there is no decent take-out available), all this “slow media” swing aiming to contain the spread of fake news, and… cyclists, strolling around the cities in droves? Right.
So. How exactly do those two big trends overlap and coexist? How exactly the VR/AR trend is happening at the same time as the trend towards maximizing the real life experience?
Who are the real life backers? Some sort of contemporary Luddites who don’t understand the inevitability of the “androidisation” of humanity? Why are they so persistent?
“There’s a reason that the most tech-cautious parents are tech designers and engineers. Steve Jobs was a notoriously low-tech parent. Silicon Valley tech executives and engineers enroll their kids in no-tech Waldorf Schools. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to no-tech Montessori Schools, as did Amazon creator Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Many parents intuitively understand that ubiquitous glowing screens are having a negative effect on kids. We see the aggressive temper tantrums when the devices are taken away and the wandering attention spans when children are not perpetually stimulated by their hyper-arousing devices. Worse, we see children who become bored, apathetic, uninteresting and uninterested when not plugged in. But it’s even worse than we think. We now know that those iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that cocaine does”.
And suddenly mindfulness, the popularity of Seneca’s stoicism, slow media, slow food, as well as the attention towards the introverts’ lifestyle and, hey, last but not least, the revival of physical books to the point that you hear rumours thate-books are already dead -– all these trends, while strange on first glance, suddenly look much, much more logical.
So, how come that all those contradictory things are happening almost at the same time?
My answer is simple: the trend for maximising the real life experience is about taking back control over our own time and senses. It is all about taking back control over our lives, an outward rebellion against the growing importance of the digital, screen-centred way of life. This is how the two trends are spreading almost simultaneously. They feed off each other.
And the crucial asset the two trends are fighting for is OUR ATTENTION.
To illustrate what’s at stake, there is the most striking example: kids.
There is a growing amount of evidence that decline in physical world interactions like unsupervised play results in the rise of mental disorders in children. Apparently, no screen can overcome anxiety and provide a peaceful state of mind.
As Jean M. Twenge, the famous psychologist who coined “iGen” term, pointed out:
“It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones…
Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.
If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence based on this survey, it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something—anything—that does not involve a screen. Of course, these analyses don’t unequivocally prove that screen time causes unhappiness; it’s possible that unhappy teens spend more time online. But recent research suggests that screen time, in particular social-media use, does indeed cause unhappiness.”
More and more researchers and writers speak about smartphone addiction as if it were something similar to drinking and other bad habits. Just look at this passage by Ian Bogost, the author of Play Anything:
“Now we all check their email (or Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram, or…) compulsively at the dinner table, or the traffic light. Now we all stow our devices on the nightstand before bed, and check them first thing in the morning. We all do. It’s not abnormal, and it’s not just for business. It’s just what people do. Like smoking in 1965, it’s just life.”
Nevertheless, he predicts that it all can change in the future. In the words of a renown Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan:
“…it is not unfathomable to imagine a prospective society that finds the tic itself to be as abhorrent and vile as today’s culture does cigarettes. In that putative future, smartphone users would be relegated to special rooms in airports, where passers by would shake their heads disapprovingly at the grey faces lit from below by their tiny, blue screens”.
How is that? Impressive, isn’t it?
The thing is that more screen time means more sitting time too. Another reference to smoking:
“Erin O’Loughlin is an exercise psychologist at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. There are many reasons children and teens have been sitting more, she notes. These include less outdoor play, more screen time and schools that have been reducing opportunities for exercise during the school day.”
As Michaeleen Doucleff and Allison Aubrey write in their NPR “Smartphone Detox: How to power down in a wired world”, sometimes we all need a digital detox:
“A recent study of high school students, published in the journalEmotion, found that too much time spent on digital devices is linked to lower self-esteem and a decrease in well-being. The survey asked teens how much time they spent — outside of schoolwork — on activities such as texting, gaming, searching the internet or using social media.
“We found teens who spend five or more hours a day online are twice as likely to say they’re unhappy,”compared to those who spend less time plugged in, explains the study’s author, Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University.
Twenge’s research suggests digital abstinence is not good either. Teens who have no access to screens or social media may feel shut out, she says.
But there may be a sweet spot. According to the survey data, “the teens who spend a little time — an hour or two hours a day [on their devices] — those are actually the happiest teens,”Twenge says.”
In his TED talk, Kahneman mentions that overall life satisfaction is influenced most by the quality of our relationships. When we are looking for overall life satisfaction, it’s critical that we invest in our relationships. We must remember that, from an evolutionary perspective, these relationships always took place in-person. In a sense, we are hard-wired to meet our deep-rooted need for relationships in-person.
Excessive screen time is detrimental to relationships:
Stop being Pavlov’s dog — turn off notifications. “This won’t necessarily keep you from checking the phone compulsively,” says University of Connecticut psychologist David Greenfield. “But it reduces the likelihood because the notifications are letting you know there may be a reward waiting for you.” – conclude Doucleff and Aubrey.
So, it’s all about attention and our ability to be in control of our time. Let’s dig in deeper.
There is no sense in arguing with the fact that we can do little without screen-centered digital instruments, but why we are glued to the screen around the clock, all the time?
Nearly all slept with their phone, putting it under their pillow, on the mattress, or at the very least within arm’s reach of the bed. They checked social media right before they went to sleep, and reached for their phone as soon as they woke up in the morning (they had to—all of them used it as their alarm clock). Their phone was the last thing they saw before they went to sleep and the first thing they saw when they woke up.
Why is that? The answer is: because of the dopamine inducing reward seeking instant gratification principle which is a part of the smartphone design. Similar to the “like” button on Facebook, it’s based on the whack-a-mole principle, and so the simplest way to overcome the addiction is to go unplugged for some time and practice Mindfulness.
“That itch to glance at our phone is a natural reaction to apps and websites engineered to get us scrolling as frequently as possible. The attention economy, which showers profits on companies that seize our focus, has kicked off what Tristan Harris, a former product philosopher at Google, calls a “race to the bottom of the brain stem.” “You could say that it’s my responsibility” to exert self-control when it comes to digital usage, he explains, “but that’s not acknowledging that there’s a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job is to break down whatever responsibility I can maintain.”
In short, we’ve lost control of our relationship with technology because technology has become better at controlling us.
In the end, he says, companies “stand back watching as a billion people run around like chickens with their heads cut off, responding to each other and feeling indebted to each other.”
Sean Parker, ex-Facebook president, explained the initial objective behind the development of Facebook back in 2017 this way:
“How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to upload more content. It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
As Olivia Solon writes for The Guardian, Parker used to tell how in the early days of Facebook people would tell him they weren’t on social media because they valued their real-life interactions.
“And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be,’” he said.
“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying,” he added, pointing to “unintended consequences” that arise when a network grows to have more than 2 billion users.
Indeed, the simplest way to overcome the media addiction is to go unplugged for some time and immerse yourself in real life experiences. Some call the practice “Mindfulness”. I don’t know, I just love to rake leaves. Some of my friends meditate while washing dishes or playing with kids.
The thing is that even then our mind is working, quietly braingesting everything. Having a quiet walk through the park, playing with kids, talking with friends or parents, biking, practising yoga, you name it – all these activities lead to brilliant insights! Which is very good, of course, but unless you write down those insights, they could evaporate from your memory. How do you put something down without it being the buzzkiller? Notepad and pencil? That’s buzzkilling right here. Imagine yourself on a bike, juggling the pencil and the notepad along the way. Naaaah.
One click of a button would be so much better. Voice would be better. And what would be even better? The voice-to-text technology to record your insights and be able to work with them later.
So, this device as we see it is free from the digital hooks, while simultaneously being able to put down whatever the user wants – all this without the dopamine inducing feedback of any sort.
Senstone is the Instrument of the Mindfulness and Focus.
“Decisions about saving money, for instance, are heavily distorted by impatience, which helps explain why so many struggle in retirement… Saving might be easier if we could somehow imagine the future more vividly, a hypothesis of the economist A.C. Pigou supported by the work of the U.C.L.A. economist Hal Hershfield. As Venkataraman describes his experiments, he showed subjects in one group of volunteers photographs of themselves that had been digitally altered to simulate their appearance in old age, but no such photographs to a second group. When he then gave all his subjects some money they could either spend or save, members of the first group saved significantly more.”
Now, on the smaller scale, just think how many times a day you get distracted by something when you’re busy working. And think about all the things NOT done because of the digital noise triggered by a call, a messenger notification, a Facebook beep, and everything else. If you think about it, they all amount to direct financial losses and the sense of wasted time at the end of the day. Have you ever tried to imagine what your productivity is going to be at 10 PM when it’s only 8 AM? The 12 hours of your life you will never get back!
Isn’t that similar to what people feel when they look at those photos of themselves that had been digitally altered to simulate their appearance in old age?
A wasted day generates the same kind of frustration, only less sharp.
It’s the “get things done” principle that makes money, not the instant gratification induced by being plugged and connected to all the processes of the world at once. To surrender to the Fear of Missing Out is a terrible business idea.
Unplug. Concentrate. Focus. Get things done. Use Senstone.
Even such great minds as Marc Benioff, an executive who is, according to Forbes, worth almost $7 billion, agrees: “I know that the future does not equal the past. I know that I have to be here in the moment.”
He says: “Innovation is a core value at Salesforce. It is deeply embedded in our culture. This starts in the mindset of every person in the company — you must cultivate a beginner’s mind, the practice of looking at the world with fresh, unencumbered eyes, and avoiding inside-out or homogenous thinking that can lead to blind spots and missed opportunities. To encourage this mindset, we have ‘mindfulness zones on every floor of our office buildings where employees can put their phones into a basket and clear their minds”.
Jeff Bezos agrees with the sentiment. Catherine Clifford, CNBC, quotes his opinion that “the best work happens when an individual has both a beginner’s mind mentality and a vast library of knowledge”.
The ‘mindfulness zones’, where employees are not supposed to use their smartphones, is not just a quirk of Benioff’s Salesforce.
“Yet this emphasis on mindfulness and consciousness, which has extended far beyond the tech world, puts the burden on users to train their focus, without acknowledging that the devices in their hands are engineered to chip away at their concentration. It’s like telling people to get healthy by exercising more, then offering the choice between a Big Mac and a Quarter Pounder when they sit down for a meal.” —Bianca Bosker writes in The Atlantic.
There is strong scientific evidence suggesting that “the mere presence of one’s smartphone may reduce available cognitive capacity and impair cognitive functioning, even when consumers are successful at remaining focused on the task at hand”, as claimed by a study conducted at the University of Chicago.
As Justin Rosenstein, the former Google and Facebook engineer who helped build the ‘like’ button, puts it “Everyone is distracted. All of the time.”
“One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before,”Rosenstein says. It may or may not be relevant that Rosenstein, Pearlman [his ex-colleague from Facebook stint] and most of the tech insiders questioning today’s attention economy are in their 30s. They are the last generation of people who would remember the world in which telephones were plugged into walls. It is revealing that many of these younger technologists are weaning themselves off their own products, sending their children to elite Silicon Valley schools where iPhones, iPads, and laptops are banned. They appear to be abiding by a once-popular Biggie Smalls song about the perils of dealing crack:never get high on your own supply.