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Thomas Edison and His Notebooks

Thomas Edison’s notebooks are legendary for several reasons. For example, there are 3,500 of them and… But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

 

The Man Who Changed the World



Thomas Alva Edison was one of the most prolific and influential inventors in history, credited with many groundbreaking inventions, including but not limited to:

  • incandescent light bulb

  • phonograph (audio recorder & player)

  • kinetoscope (motion picture camera)

  • alkaline battery for electric cars

  • fuel cell technology



Edison founded the Edison Electric Light Company (later General Electric) to commercialize his discoveries and establish a market for electric lighting. Throughout his career, he held over 1,000 patents.



In addition, Edison’s legacy includes the establishment of research laboratories, such as the famous Edison Laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. He remains an iconic figure in the world of entrepreneurship – and one of the most talented people in history.

 

Thomas Edison Loved Taking Notes

 

Thomas Edison was known to be an avid note-taker, often carrying pocket notebooks (yes, multiple) to write down ideas. In the 1970s it took a team of historians a full year just to find all of his New Jersey notes, and they had to go “from building to building”.



The total volume of Thomas Edison’s notes?



3,500 notebooks, around 285 pages each.



5 million words. Thousands of sketches.



Thomas Edison’s notebooks were filled with a variety of content, including diagrams, calculations, lists, sketches, observations, and even (bad) attempts at poetry. He would often refer back to these notebooks when working on new projects or troubleshooting existing ones. (A productivity technique that Richard Branson swears by.)



thomas-edison-notebooks-page
A spread from one of the Edison’s notebooks



The collection is currently housed in the archives of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey.



What We Can Learn From Thomas Edison’s Notebooks



Although Thomas Edison was a messy writer, there was a method to his madness. Having this much material to work with, we can see pattern in the way he created and organized his notes, and we can learn from his mistakes.



#1. Write down everything.

Thomas Edison knew the importance of notes. He would write down everything, from to-do lists to ideas to observations about the world around him. And when words did not cut it, he would doodle and sketch.



#2. Always have a backup plan.

Backing up is easy when you have internet access, but Thomas Edison had to rely on copies. Sometimes he would write down an idea three or four times across different notebooks.



#3. Always have a recording device at hand.

Edison would have notebooks lying on benches and tables in the laboratory, grabbing the one that was closer. He would carry a dog-eared notebook in his pocket. These days we can use AI-powered wearables to take notes on the run, but Edison had to make do.



#4. Even the greats struggle to stay organized.

Edison would often lose track of his notes. He made several attempts at indexing his notebooks – to no avail. At the same time, he made his office staff reference the notebooks in lab journals. When that failed, he had researchers keep their own notes in the same fashion.



In conclusion, there is no doubt that Edison’s dedication to note-taking played a crucial role in his success. It helped him through patent struggles. It fueled his productivity. By meticulously recording thoughts and projects, he was able to organize his ideas, track his experiments, and make new discoveries. His notebooks serve as valuable resources for research – and a good example for entrepreneurs.

 

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How Does Elon Musk Take Notes?

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Note-taking habits can reveal a lot about a person, and it’s no surprise that so many people are interested in how Elon Musk takes notes. Some expect to discover a secret to his success, while others seek explanation for his controversial activities. After all, everything starts with an idea – and ideas have to be recorded.

 

So, does Elon Musk keep a secret journal? Does he use the Cornell method? Speech-to-text? Artificial intelligence?

 

“I never take notes,” said Elon Musk on X (formerly Twitter) in March, 2023 and didn’t elaborate.

 

The sentence-long post caused quite a stir. The comments ranged from approval to the snarky “we’ve noticed”. Some people questioned whether Musk was telling the truth: after all, acting contrarian would have been nothing new for him.

 

According to Elon Musk, a biography by Walter Isaacson, even as a young boy Elon Musk was exceptionally academically gifted. In later chapters, Isaacson cites Musk’s co-workers: apparently, he could show up to a meeting and casually recall the most minute details of his projects, previous meetings, and so on.

 

Maye Musk provides some more information, which make it seem like Elon Musk has a unique asset: his memory. In one of the interviews, Maye Musk says that as a child he “memorized the Encyclopedia Britannica” – at the age of eight!

 

The hypothesis about Elon Musk having eidetic memory has been floating around the internet for a while. If he does remember everything, that can explain his note-taking habits (or lack thereof). However, there is no actual proof. For all we know, Elon Musk could be using mnemonic tricks to memorize only the info he deems relevant.

 

Overall, Elon Musk likes to be mysterious, secretive, and random. His public image is carefully maintained, so we know very little about his creative process. The best we can do is to quote some advice on learning that he gave on Reddit a few years ago:

 

…I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying. One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.

 

This echoes the sentiment that most educators and scientists hold: re-invent the basics if need be, but you have to master them in order to understand the subject.

 

If you want to learn more about successful people and their note-taking techniques, subscribe to our newsletter or simply bookmark this blog where we post about all things efficiency.

 

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How Does Bill Gates Take Notes?

Bill Gates takes a lot of notes throughout the day, and he uses pen and paper. That is the short version. Turns out the founder of Microsoft has a deliberate note-taking system which helps him memorize business meetings and non-fiction books.

 

If you want to know the specifics, keep scrolling.

How does Bill Gates Take Notes?

 

In the now distant 2003, Rob Howard attended a 2-hour meeting with Bill Gates and other Microsoft employees. It inspired Howard to write a blog post which describes the meeting in great detail (as of January 2024, it’s still up on Grokable).

 

The first thing I notice as the meeting starts is that Bill is left-handed,” writes Rob Howard. “He also didn’t bring a computer in with him, but instead is taking notes on a yellow pad of paper. I had heard this before – Bill takes amazingly detailed notes during meetings. I image [sic] he has to, given all the information directed at him. The other thing I noticed during the course of the meeting is how he takes his notes. He doesn’t take notes from top-to-bottom, but rather logically divides the page into quadrants, each reserved for a different thought. For example, it appeared that all his questions were placed at the bottom of the page.”

 

Perhaps the most obvious conclusion we can draw from this is that you should take your own notes. Do not trust summaries written by a colleague. Do not just relax and listen. Take notes during the meeting, hot off the presses, using a device like Scripter or regular paper. There are several reasons to do that (all of them good).

 

First of all, note taking won’t let you space out. If a piece of information doesn’t make any sense, you can spot it immediately. Additionally, processing things as you hear them helps you commit them to memory; Bill Gates can confirm:

 

…Are you taking in new knowledge and sort of attaching it to knowledge you have? For me, taking notes helps make sure that I’m really thinking hard about what’s in there.”

 

Another curious detail is that Gates divides the page into quadrants.

 

Some speculate he adopted the Cornell note taking system. This could be true. The Cornell system involves dividing a page into sections, such as “Keywords”, “Questions”, “Main notes”, and “Summary”.

 

One more source that we can trust on the subject of Bill Gates and his note-taking habits is Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

 

I was delighted to see Bill’s notes were scribbled on some crumbled paper he had been carrying in his jacket pocket,” says Branson.

 

Perhaps this is another lesson we can learn from Bill Gates: you should always have your notes with you, whether they are digital or physical. As the Scout motto goes, be prepared. You never know when you get the next great idea.

 

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How to Write Good Field Notes

If your job involves any amount of field work, knowing how to take field notes is a must. Unfortunately, Field Notes 101 was never on the curriculum, so everyone I’ve ever met just wings it.

 

And I’m not opposed to winging it, don’t get me wrong; but.

 

The problem is that eventually people start making identical mistakes which could be easily avoided.

 

Carefully storing The Very Important Journal in a zip-lock bag is for weirdos, nobody does that. (Until you lose half your work to some water.)

 

Why would I remember where I put my notes from 2016? (Until you need them ASAP; they are across the map. Bonus: the ink has faded to a ghost of its former self.)

 

Who needs my tattered notebook? (Until your whole suitcase goes missing.)

 

All of the above have an obvious solution:

TAKE DIGITAL NOTES

 

Personally, I would suggest voice notes. The reason is very practical: typing is slow. It requires you to look at the screen and keeps your hands busy. Scripter here is a good way to make sure you record accurate voice-to-text notes. It works offline, too, which is a plus.

 

Digital field notes have another advantage: you can use hashtags and keywords to sort them by topic. Create a short list of your keywords to keep the system efficient. It functions much, much better than a physical notebook.

 

Sketching by hand is great, but you should always take photos of your sketches after you’re done. You can store them online for extra assurance, and Google Drive is your friend.

 

(Same goes for videos. You should always keep the backup copies in the cloud.)

 

Scan your old field notes and save them both locally and online. Do not store journals in a humid place like the basement. Avoid direct natural light.

 

And if you are not sure how to take field notes like a pro, there are always your colleagues. Do not hesitate to pick their brains on the subject even you think they might not like it. You might be surprised by how much people enjoy sharing note-taking techniques, life hacks, and general advice.

 

Finally, consider buying a water- and fade-resistant ballpoint pen for your writing. As I mentioned before, it really pays off in the long run.

 

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Secrets: How Taylor Swift Writes Her Songs

taylor-swift-posing-during-concert-in-black-outfit

Taylor Swift knows how to write a song: her tour boosted the US economy by $5 billion and caused a minor earthquake in Seattle. She has not only captured millions of hearts with her chart-topping hits but has also given us a backstage pass to witness her songwriting process.



And it’s a secret we are happy to learn.



All of the Notes You Took Before



First of all, Taylor Swift does not really mind sharing her creative journey with the fans. Not only is it a good PR tactic, but it also offers a unique perspective into the meticulous craftsmanship behind her iconic songs. Nothing is an accident.



We can see the hint of Swift’s method in her making-of-a-song video for “Delicate” (yet another hit). It’s four minutes long, and the song appears to be halfway done. But we can see the core principle of Taylor Swift’s songwriting ritual nevertheless.



So… How Does Taylor Swift Write?



Taylor Swift doesn’t actually write lyrics. She uses her voice.

 

Apparently, Taylor Swift really likes voice notes; she uses this method to compose most of her songs. (Sometimes she records them on the run; think Senstone.)



According to Ryan Tedder, Swift’s dedication to the note-taking habit is unparalleled. She persistently sends her voice memos ideas to collaborators, seeking their opinions and insights… sometimes too often.



In some instances, her non-stop creativity might lead to a flood of ideas, to the point where collaborators like Tedder may feel overwhelmed and “bad for their share”. It’s one voice note after another.



Another aspect of Swift’s note-taking habits is her ability to compose on the go. She often improvises sounds and syllables, playing with the tune and examining how they align until the perfect combination is found.



Productivity Hacks, Courtesy Taylor Swift



Even if you are not a content creator, you can still learn a lot from the way Taylor Swift creates lyrics. Now that we know how Taylor Swift writes her songs, it is easy to replicate her pattern of work. Her method works very well, especially if you are looking to boost your general productivity. From improvisations to constant sharing of ideas through voice memos, Swift’s approach is a finely tuned alchemy of creativity and collaboration.



(She would not be making billions otherwise!)



Key takeaways:

  • Voice notes. Recording is better than typing – and not just for songs. Patient logs, interviews, reports, and so on are more efficient when you ditch the keyboard. Devices like Senstone Scripter transcribe voice to text, which is a good way to streamline this kind of spontaneous note-taking.

  • Collaboration. Share some of your notes with trusted colleagues or friends. It usually helps you think, not to mention a second opinion is always good.

  • Improvise. Record your notes on the go. Do not wait for the idea to get stale, and do not think too much about how it’s going to look. Write before you edit.



Conclusion



Taylor Swift’s note-taking habits are a testament to the dynamic and collaborative nature of her creative process, and we can use them to enhance our own productivity. And she is not the only source of inspiration for that. Successful people have a long track record of taking notes. In fact, it seems like note-taking is one of the prerequisites to building a brilliant career.



This article is Part 1 of an upcoming series on famous people and their note-taking habits. More like this:

 

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How to Take Notes in a Meeting

note-taking-device-for-office

Knowing how to take notes in a meeting can spell the difference between success and failure. The devil is in the details, after all.



However, efficient note-taking is difficult to pull off, especially when dealing with people. You have to focus on what they are saying or risk losing the plot (literally). Not to mention basic politeness which implies active listening and eye contact.



So… How to Take Notes Efficiently?



First of all, come prepared. Choose the right tools. The pen and paper method is distracting, a laptop even more so. We suggest using a speech-to-text solution like Senstone Scripter, especially since it’s AI-powered.



There are many pros to using voice technology in meetings. That way you can bypass the constraints of typing speed, making sure nothing slips through the cracks. It also enables multitasking. You can keep your hands and eyes free to focus on work while the notes write themselves.



Furthermore, you can share your meeting notes with co-workers (if appropriate). This not only fosters collaboration but also ensures that everyone is on the same page. Voice technology makes sharing and storing notes easy because they are not confined to a page.



What Should I Write Down?



Your strategy should depend on the type of meeting you are hosting or attending.



It makes sense to record long stretches of important information completely. You can always review them later. Transcription means you are free to look up certain words and edit the text to your liking.



Sometimes it is useful to recap the meeting right after, recording your immediate thoughts, impressions, and ideas. Identify and emphasize action items or tasks assigned during the meeting. Recording these will help you prioritize and track progress post-meeting.



Keeping Things in Order



Spend some time playing with your recording tool of choice. Familiarize yourself with the device and/or app. The more comfortable you become with it, the more seamlessly it will integrate into your note-taking routine.



Apps like Senstone provide various sorting options, tags, and keywords. Establish a system for organizing your notes. Tag and categorize notes based on projects, topics, or deadlines. This makes it easier to locate specific information when needed.



By coming prepared, actively listening, and using voice-to-text to capture notes, you can turn each meeting into a truly positive experience. Experiment with different tools, incorporate best practices, and watch as speech-to-text revolutionizes the way you take notes, making your work life less stressful and more productive.



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IoT Wearables For Dummies

iot-wearable-recorder-technology

IoT (Internet of Things) wearables are wearable devices equipped with sensors, connectivity capabilities, and often a user interface that allows them to collect data and interact with the internet or other gadgets. These wearables are designed to extend the capabilities of traditional accessories.

7 common examples of IoT wearables

1. Smartwatches: These are wrist-worn devices that not only tell time but also have sensors to track various health metrics (heart rate, breathing, steps taken), receive notifications from smartphones, and even run third-party apps. According to a Pew Research study, roughly 21% of Americans regularly wear a smartwatch.

 

2. Wearable recorders include button-sized recording devices that can be operated with a single button (see Senstone Scripter). Wearable recorders are usually powered by AI which allows them to instantly convert speech to text. They are popular with healthcare professionals, managers, consultants, and writers.

 

3. Fitness Trackers are designed primarily for monitoring physical activity and health. They can track steps, distance, calories burned, sleep quality, and more. They often sync with smartphones to provide users with a comprehensive view of their fitness and health data.

 

4. Smart Clothing. Some clothing items, like shirts, sports bras, or socks, are embedded with sensors and connectivity features. These sensors can monitor body metrics, such as posture or muscle activity, and transmit the data to a paired device for analysis. As of now, smart clothing is mostly used by athletes.

 

5. Wearable Cameras. Devices like body-worn cameras or life-logging cameras capture images and videos from a first-person perspective and may have connectivity features to transfer or store media. They are especially popular among content creators.

 

6. Wearable Health Monitors. These devices are often worn as wristbands or patches and monitor various health parameters, such as ECG, glucose levels, or skin temperature. They can transmit data to doctors or caregivers for remote monitoring.

 

7. Smart Jewellery. Certain jewellery items, like rings or necklaces, are manufactured with embedded sensors to monitor activity or stress. Some of them even come with safety features like a panic button.

 

IoT wearables are typically designed to enhance productivity, boost quality of life, or improve health monitoring. They often connect to smartphones or other devices to display data or provide control interfaces.

 

The data collected from these wearables can be used for almost anything: workplace productivity, personal insights, medical monitoring, fitness tracking, creative pursuits.

 

The IoT aspect allows for data to be transferred, analysed, and acted upon, opening up a wide range of possibilities for integrating wearables into daily life and various industries.

 

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This post has been brought to you by Senstone. Visit the homepage to learn more about our AI-powered productivity wearables. Your success is our mission.

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Wearables For Doctors: Evolving Healthcare

Wearables for doctors. Healthcare.

There has been a trend for wearables among doctors, and some wearable devices cater to doctors specifically.



The reason for this is rather obvious. Wearables are good for many things, and recording is one of them. Vitals or patient logs, you can record anything.



Wearable Tech in Healthcare: How It All Started

Wearables were initially popularized by fitness trackers and smartwatches. As the technology improved, it became more and more reliable. Eventually it found a significant place in the medical field. From ECG to breathing monitors, wearable devices have the potential to enhance patient care, streamline clinical workflows, and improve overall healthcare outcomes.



Writing on the Run

Voice-to-text conversion is a life saver (sometimes literally) for anyone working in the medical field. For one, it helps to navigate the bureaucracy. More importantly, it can be used to log patient data and streamline the workflow. Reliable speech-to-text and note taking tools provide accurate and time-saving documentation. A wearable like Senstone Scripter allows to do that with a press of a button, and AI enables it to ‘understand’ medical terminology.



Monitoring Vital Signs in Real Time

One of the most critical applications of wearable devices in healthcare is the real-time monitoring of vital signs. Devices like smartwatches, biosensors, and even smart clothing can continuously track a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and more. This data is invaluable for doctors as it provides a realistic view of a patient’s health over an extended period. Wearables can enable early detection of abnormalities and timely intervention.



Remote Patient Monitoring

Wearable devices empower doctors to remotely monitor patients, reducing the need for frequent in-person visits. Patients with chronic conditions (especially cardiac issues), post-surgery recovery, or those at risk of certain health issues can benefit immensely from continuous monitoring. This not only improves patient comfort but also allows healthcare providers to intervene right away in case of any concerning changes.



Enhanced Diagnostics and Decision-Making

Wearable devices can collect an extensive range of health data, which can be analysed to aid doctors in making more accurate diagnoses and decisions. Machine learning algorithms can process this data to identify patterns and trends, helping doctors detect diseases at an earlier stage and personalize treatment plans. Moreover, these devices can assist in tracking the effectiveness of treatments over time.



Augmented Reality

Surgeons are also benefiting from wearable technology. Augmented reality (AR) glasses can overlay critical information (such as patient data and 3D imaging) onto a surgeon’s field of view during procedures. This enhances precision, reduces the risk of complications, and allows for minimally invasive surgeries.



Enhanced Medical Education and Training

Wearable devices are not just for experienced doctors; they are also invaluable tools for medical students and trainees. By offering hands-on, real-time experiences and access to a wealth of medical information, these devices are helping the next generation of healthcare professionals learn and practice more effectively.



Conclusion

Wearable devices for doctors are revolutionizing the healthcare industry by providing real-time health data, allowing to record data more efficiently, enabling remote patient monitoring, improving diagnostics, and enhancing surgical precision. As technology continues to advance, we can expect wearable devices to become even more integrated into the healthcare system, ultimately leading to better patient care, reduced healthcare costs, and improved health outcomes.

As wearable technology continues to evolve, healthcare professionals and organizations embrace these innovations to stay at the forefront of patient care and medical advancements. The future of healthcare is wearable, and it’s an exciting journey filled with opportunities to improve the lives of patients and the practice of medicine itself.

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Household Robots Will Save You From Chores by 2050

home-robot-future-technology

The future is full of household robots. If you think this is a sensationalist claim (“yeah, sure; moon colonies by 2030, right?”), think again. Nothing can stand in the way of human laziness– I mean efficiency.

The Domestic Robot Market Is Growing

Regular housekeeping items slowly evolve into futuristic household bots. The trend is pretty obvious. Roomba is a great example: it’s replacing old school vacuum cleaners as we speak. Recorders are being replaced by button-sized wearables that transform voice into text. Alexa and Siri handle order us food and handle calls.

The internet of things can connect all of these into one universal helper. Smart homes are a step in the right direction.

And look where we’re headed: the household robots market has grown by ~30% since 2019. It’s projected to triple by 2030.

Everybody Wants to Automate Their Chores

Okay, you’re saying, household robots are going to be popular in the future. But what if this is just a fad? What if the trend dies?

Short answer: no.

There are several reasons why household robots are what the customer needs. All of these reasons are very good. They are rooted in human nature and therefore unlikely to ever become irrelevant.

  • Domestic robots save the time spent cleaning, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn.
  • They can assist elderly people, allowing for 24/7 health monitoring and emotional support.
  • Robots don’t get paid. Human workers require a wage.
  • AI-powered devices can work while you’re away.

In other words, a domestic robot can save your money and your marriage.

So… How Long Until Household Bots Become Common?

With the recent advances in AI and mechatronics, the concept of futuristic household robots has never been closer to reality.

We already have food delivery robots zipping around big cities like London or Santa Monica.

AI chat bots entertain us with jokes, heartfelt conversations, and trivia.

We can use a phone to control our house.

Voice user interface is available for more and more devices, including cars.

All of the above illustrates some promising trends:

  • cheaper, mass-market robotic devices
  • robots are getting better at moving autonomously & navigating the world
  • organic, fast communication with AI-powered devices

And while androids are not likely to enter the market before at least 2050, by then most homes will own at least one domestic robot. At least that’s what most researchers and futurists agree on.

Conclusion

Some domestic helper bots are already available to everyone, although their functions are limited. As technology advances, we see better and cheaper robots used by companies and individuals alike. Based on market predictions, home robots will become common in the following decades.

If you want to learn more about the ever-changing world of technology, you might find our website interesting.

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Wearable Recording Device: Soon at Your Office

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When you hear “wearable recording device”, you probably imagine a hidden camera straight out of a spy movie. This is about to change. More and more companies adopt wearable tech to record meetings and streamline note-taking.

 

Wearable Recorders & Voice Typing

 

A wearable recording device that uses AI to capture notes is the type of wearables that we are about to see enter the office.

 

Voice technology has evolved to the point where ignoring it would be inefficient. You do not use a 1930s typewriter when there is a perfectly good laptop right in front of you. This applies to manual typing and wearable voice recorders.

Why It’s a Good Idea

 

Incorporating a wearable into the office routine is a big step. It requires planning and adaptation. And yet, it is worth the hassle in the end. Why?

 

First of all, a wearable recording device works to help the user. Actively so. It manages files, corrects grammar and spelling, adds automatic keywords and titles, even creates reminders. This saves time and money.

 

Second, wearable recorders are built to keep you focused on the task. They do not distract you and never send notifications. Senstone Scripter is a good example of this design philosophy: it has only one button and no screen at all.

 

Third, wearables recorders boost productivity. You can instantly share recordings or transcripts with other employees. When there’s a business meeting, you can actually sit and listen – and emerge with every fine detail recorded.

 

Finally, wearables give you the advantage of correct posture and normal sight. That is something that inevitably suffers from the office setting, and wearable provide additional relief (but, sadly, cannot replace a good chair).

 

What to Expect From a Wearable Recorder

 

If you’re new to the world of wearable recording devices, you might not be aware of what counts as basic features. Apart from the obvious “it can record and transcribe audio”, your wearable recorder is expected to offer the following:

 

  • support for multiple languages

  • ability to work offline

  • correct and accurate transcription (the technology is there)

  • maximum recording length of at least 1 hour

  • automatic formatting

  • sharing & export options

  • encryption

Personal Tool – Or Fit For a Team?

 

You can use a wearable recording device alone. Voice assistants like Scripter do a great job at being your personal AI secretary. But they can also be used by a team.

 

For instance, outfitting managers with a wearable voice recorder allows them to keep real-time logs and pool those logs together. Tracking performance becomes an easy task.

 

Everything depends on the company and how it operates. Sometimes it makes sense to only use wearables for a certain unit. Sometimes quantity produces quality.

 

Do You Want to Learn More?

 

Visit our homepage and blog to familiarize yourself with wearable recorders. If you are thinking about integrating wearables into your work place, you can email us at team@senstone.io. We’ve been making productivity wearables for years, and this is something we can always help you with.

 

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