Wearables Take A Hike (A Spoof)

Here is Casey’s homework for her lifelong learning writing class. Enjoy!


July 13, 2018 Dellville, AZ.

Post by (pseudonym) Jill Tricker on her blog “Living Longer Through Learning”.

Today was the annual LLoL hike up the iconic Big Toe Butte, led by Jack Fast and me. Last year’s hike had bad troubles. Jack’s headlong stumble into a boulder sent him home early. His visiting mother took him to Urgent Care. Ironically, I, too, tumbled and broke my right ankle. Crossing paths in the Emergency Room, we guessed that both our accidents were due to dehydration, having failed to reach the well at the top of the hill. We vowed to be better equipped for future trips, thanks to the wonderful world of wearable computing devices.

We gathered early, 9 a.m. with the temperature 80 degrees, and daily humidity likely to rise as the afternoon storms gathered. Our group met at the picnic tables below the trail, which looked like it headed 30 degrees toward a sheer cliff peeking into a hazy sky. Among many stands of healthy trees were sections of scraggly trunks after the recent pine beetle attack. A mile off toward the Little Heel mesa was a blackened hulk from a long ago monsoon lightning storm. Printed signs alerted us not to disturb nesting Peregrine falcons.

Jack had gone whole hog and bought Google glasses, now selling for under $100. He also received a special deal on Hearables, enough for all 10 hikers. His GG, as he fondly calls them, loaded Whisperer social media profiles to better acquaint all trip members. Our profiles included mundane facts like hometowns, pedigrees, horoscope signs, last job title, and favorite LLOL courses. Two Sporty hikers reprised the Buckeye-Wolverine rivalry. Our companionship had begun, thanks to CumuLinker’s careful pair wise introductions.

Doctor Bob is our Health Gadget guy. He equipped us with blood pressure measuring bracelets that transmitted to our smart phone app and then off to Quantified Central. He wanted to assure nobody’s heart gave out on the steep uphill climb.

We were all curious about our physiological changes, as we learn to live in the new world of continuous body monitoring. For several days we had entered our calorie and liquid intake. However, our different apps yielded inconsistent calculations. Predictions on our hydration management, i.e. fluid input/output, varied from p=5 to p=15. We knew this hike would last at least 2 hours.

Hiker Ted, unfamiliar with wearing a bracelet, got his arm entangled in a vine-crusted cactus. Eventually we got him unpricked but it took 15 minutes of haggling to figure out which first aid cream to apply. Someone forgot to bring the emergency kit instructions.

Jack’s family history worried him so much he had installed a Dementia Detector app to filter social media profiles. The last thing a trip leader wants is a hike member wandering off. Jack explained to me that the Dementia Detector was good at predicting based on Facebook posts that change vocabulary mid-rant. This seems creepy to me, but may have helped when Max’s Hearable alerted us that he was rambling and occasionally turning around on the trail.

My ankle was recovered from last year’s injury. I’d purchased blister-resistant hiking boots. This smart liner fabric detects skin changes even before a blister appears. However, I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the skin texture setting. That formula attracted ants and I was under creepy crawly attack every time I stopped walking.

Speaking of crawling things, Alice had a snake warning detector module for her hearable. A hiss or rattle could cause immediate alerts which she had set to “tingle and yell”. This gadget goes back to the vendor, with a big #fail warning on Twitter. It appears that Ted’s bird identification app emitted noisy signals as he leafed through bird-call demonstrations. Some sound effects tricked Alice’s earable into warning “Possible rattler to your left at 10 o’clock”. She was a nervous wreck most of the hike.

“Mushroom Max”, as he is known, was deliriously happy to find his favorite morsel near last year’s location. The moist spot had been stomped on by geocatchers but several delicate fungi survived. Dreaming of a juicy fresh mushroom omelet when he got home, he texted his refrigerator to check for eggs.

MyFrig app texted back: “Max, you have 2 eggs. Do you want to upgrade your Amazon Instant for delivery by the next drone?”

Max (via Siri): “No. Please retrieve ‘Deliriously Delicious Omelet’ recipe to my iPhone.”

Delaying one minute, MyFrig announced, “Max, Google Now observes that last year you suffered a 3 day diarrhea bout using that recipe. Would you like a tutorial on mushroom identification sent to your iWatch or that nearby Google Glass user?”

Max via Siri: “Cancel recipe!”

Siri mis-understood him. His iWatch rapidly scrolled the illustrated mushroom tutorial which then appears on Jack’s glass screen. All devices in the Nearby connectivity region displayed the voluminous text. Everybody halted their uphill climb to reboot.

MyFrig texted again with a sad face emoji: “Sorry, Max, your home Control system crashed. ‘Feature Interaction error’ message has been sent to Wired Casa.com. Please repeat, what was it you wanted from the refrigerator?”.

Max was so annoyed he was about to stuff a mushroom down his throat. We calmed him, and good thing too. His blood pressure bracelet LED lights were flashing.

One more home communication snafu occurred. Carol remembered mid-hike that she forgot to fill her dog’s water bowl. For safety and reassurance, she messaged her home water system but could not remember the pet bowl spigot identifier. With too much light on the mobile screen, she was virtually blind and could not find the right location button to push. I explained Apple VoiceOver which would read off an iPhone screen. However, she was equipped with a half-vast Google Sprinkles operating system. Defaulting, she three times turned on all the spigots for 30 seconds, expecting Snuffy to be running around the house in great anxiety due to the strange cascading noises. Carol texted me after the hike that Snuffy was fine and the messes were all cleaned up.

Reaching the top of the hill, we took a break. Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice all ran out of battery juice. Jack and I lost our cell connectivity. Max stuffed all his gadgetry into his backpack and stopped talking. The ever-quiet Sue was listening to a book on local Native American history with flute songs wafting outside her ear buds. She seemed so at peace.

Jack and I led the group to the shade of a boulder where we expected to find the well. I was looking forward to splashing myself with cold water then taking a long drink from the pure liquid. Instead, we found a granite-colored tube dangling from a thin line swinging under a tree limb.

Jack lost his cool. “Dammit! Someone have moved the well faucet. Look here, some geocachers left us a logic puzzle to solve to find the new well location. Is anybody good at these games?”.

The puzzle began: “Four friends, Bill, Tom, Connie and Alison, live in Glendale, Eagle Rock, Pasadena and Arcadia. They work as accountant, physician, engineer, or teacher. …more clues…”

Nobody had any paper or pencils to work out the answer. Sue volunteered, pulling out her small solar keyboard that attached wirelessly to her Whisperer. The rest of us watched as she glanced at the puzzle, typed a line of something, continuing until her earables spoke the coordinates.

“Oh, great,” Bob shouted, “these coordinates say the well is half-way back down the hill!”

Sue explained that she had studied such puzzles to enter law school, and that it was easy to adapt her Whisperer Logic App to follow heuristics recommended by an LSAT study guide. We’d just trained CumuLinkr to connect lawyers, geo-cachers, and logic puzzle solvers.

After a quiet downhill sprint, our gadgets all came alive with the annoying LLoL survey. Jack and I assessed our hike’s success. Great, nobody went to the Emergency Room! Some products will be return for money back. We learned about using our gadgets in bright sunlight, dry heat, and encroaching vegetation. Nobody believed that their gadgets protected them or made the hike more pleasant. Several comments expressed a desire to learn Sue’s puzzle solving methods.

“Well, see you next version,” shouted Jack, as he wobbled off on his Segway. Turning around, he waved to show off the Segway’s Autopilot. Unfortunately, the Segway’s feature recognition system wasn’t yet trained for mountain lions!