Sunday, June 29, 2014

Schick Hydro 5 Groomer Test One

OK, my first experiment with the new Schick Hydro 5 Groomer is in the bag.  Here is my first review (Reminder, I am doing this through Bzz Agent, which means I received the razor for free #GetItFree).

When I took the contraption out of the packaging, the first thing that struck me is that it is much bigger than a typical razor.  It is probably almost as big as most electric shavers.  This is necessary because it has the battery powered groomer on one side and the 5-blade razor on the other side.  The size has the advantage of making it really solid in your hand.  The negatives are that it takes up more space (a constraint in a carry-on toiletry bag) and that it makes it harder to handle when going around your chin, especially with a bony face like mine. 

The second part of my test was playing with all of the parts to see if I could figure them out.  It was pretty easy to figure out how to adjust the three levels of the groomer.  It was also easy to pop off the blade.  What was harder was figuring out how to put everything back together – the groomer blade and the razor cartridge.  It also took a little searching to figure out where to add the AAA battery that runs the groomer.  But luckily, you only have to figure all of these things out once.  Then they are pretty easy. 

As a reminder, I decided to make my first shaving test with five days growth and soapy water instead of shaving cream.  This is pretty common for me because sometimes I shave at work when I have a surprise meeting that I wanted to be well groomed for.  And I can safety say that with a brand new set of five blades and a full reservoir of aloe gel, this razor had no problem with my growth.  Very smooth, close shave.  No irritation.  No leftover clumps of hair in the corners or dips of my neck. 

I am not sure what my next test will be.  I was going to try the more common one-day growth with shaving cream.  But is seems that test is too easy.  I may wait on that one until the blades start to get a little older and see what happens then.

Friday, June 27, 2014

This Week in EID – Episode 9 Double Issue

This week I need to cover two weeks because I was traveling last week.  EID did not miss a beat because of the fantastic management of Keith Bujak.  But I wasn’t around to write up the recap here.

So here is what came out over the past two weeks:

Nature Nurture in Gender: The constant interaction between nature and nurture really fascinates me.  The genes are there, but then how to they get expressed?  And how does the expression change the wiring in the brain?  And how do genetic dispositions influence the way the changes roll out?  And on and on  . . .

All in One Devices: The only good thing about all-in-one-devices seems to be the blending of letters when trying to come up with a name.  Phablet.  Padphone. How about Laphabletch (laptop, phone, tablet, watch)?

Precrastination  I see precrastination all the time, and even do it sometimes.  But never knew it had a name.  

Crowdsourcing at Marriott: Hotels never seem to be on the cutting edge of technology, customer experience, or user engagement.  Maybe this example shows they can turn a corner.  

Privacy and Ambient ComputingI suspect electronic monitoring will be controversial and constantly changing for many years.  The tradeoff is hard to resolve and each time a new technology comes out we have to rethink it from scratch.  Not exactly what government or law enforcement is good at.  

Ethics of False NudgingI love examples where behavior, ethics, and design come together.  This is a good one.  

What do our Facebook Likes say about us?  The infamous Target example made this possibility well known.  But I am always amazed at what these modeling algorithms can figure out.  Except when they can’t.  

College Students as Research Subjects I like this idea.  As soon as the second month of the semester rolls around, I don’t have to do any more research.  

Consumer Product Testing

I was asked to test out the new Schick Hydro 5 Groomer.  I think I am a good test case.  Not just because I have consumer product evaluation experience in my HF life, but I also shave very irregularly.  Sometimes I have one day of growth, and sometimes five.  I also have kind of a bony face that challenges a lot of the razors I use.  If the Schick can handle my face and habits, it has promise. 

I also plan to follow up with a blog about whether the fact that they sent me one for free has an unconscious influence on my review.  You wouldn’t think that a couple of bucks saved on a razor would make a difference, but the unconscious part makes it more powerful than you might otherwise expect.  There is also the endowment effect since now it is “my” razor.  If a razor can influence me, it adds evidence that when politicians assert that lobbying and campaign money doesn’t influence them is complete BS.  They might legitimately think it doesn’t (sometimes), but there are many studies with strong evidence that it does anyway.  I want to point my intuition, introspection, and metacognition at the influence and see what it feels like.  I doubt I will be lobbied anytime soon (except maybe by my students groveling for grades, but they don’t offer Caribbean speaking engagements), so this might be the closest I get.  

 Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How do you see the finish line?

My current passion is gamification.  While this is often (probably most of the time) confused with either game design (which it is not) or points and badges (which is the worst, counterproductive kind of gamification), gamification is designing user experiences that engage fundamental and sustainable human motivation.  Of course that is easy to say, but hard to do effectively.  That is why so many people and companies do it poorly.  And why I am writing a book on it with my great coauthor Markus Sieber. 

Gretchen Rubin (of the Happiness Project fame) posted today about a quote from Andre Agassi’s new book and the importance of how we view the finish line.  There are three ways to frame the finish line and it is critical to pick the one that matches how you want your users to respond.

The finish line is the end of an important journey and the sign of a valuable achievement.  This motivates people to put all of their effort into those last, hard steps.  A good analogy for this is coming to the end of running marathon.  You see some of these folks on TV at the end of their ropes, but they crawl to that finish line, using every ounce of their strength, so that they can officially complete the run.  Running 26.1 miles is still pretty impressive, but getting through those last few feet makes all the difference. 


The finish line is the sad end of a fun time. This lowers attention, energy, and motivates people to avoid thinking about it.  Vacations are a good analogy for this category.  How many times have you come to the end of a trip to some tropical island and you find yourself unable to print out that boarding pass for the flight home?  Designing the user experience for this situation is completely different from the marathon.


What if the finish line is the end of chapter one, but chapter two lies just beyond?  We want to motivate the urgent optimism (gamification buzzword – sorry) to complete chapter one, but also not burn them out like in the marathon case.  You need to balance the user experience to promote the finality of the finish line for chapter one, but also highlight the exciting chapter two.  You need to begin the onboarding process for chapter two before the user starts the exhausted resting phase from completing chapter one.  This balance is really important or you get a huge dropoff rate.

Does this resonate?  Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who can you trust?

I often talk about the fundamental difference between short and long term decisions and why it is so hard to make the long ones – like skipping the delicious dessert now to achieve health goals later or like giving up some of your paycheck now for a comfortable retirement later. 

One of the primary reasons for this dissociation is that there are different brain modules that make the decisions.  Your amygdala has a strong influence on what you do now, and your amygdala codes for emotion.  So the taste of the chocolate cake or the desire to blow your paycheck on a night on the town evokes a pleasure reaction from the amygdala that we find hard to suppress.  The long term thinking in the prefrontal cortex just can’t compete.

So I was reading a paper that brought a new dimension to this process.  They claimed that there is enough psychological distance between us and our future selves that we don’t really trust them.  What if we give up dessert now and that son of a gun blows it by eating lots of dessert later?  He has all the fun and we still don’t achieve that health goal.  That would really suck!!  And since we can’t trust him, we are really better off just eating the chocolate cake now. 

So your worst enemy is your future self. Or at least your conception of him/her.