Strava performance graph with Mi Fit2 Heartbeat data

Using the Mi Fit2 bracelet with Strava

Strava performance graph with Mi Fit2 Heartbeat data

A few days back I got a Xiǎomǐ Mi Fit2 bracelet, and I recently discovered that it can be used with Strava on iOS to capture heart-rate data. Putting together the heart-rate data with the biking data is something I had to do manually with my Fitbit, with the Mi Fit2 it is reasonably easy.

Mi Fit App Experimental Menu
As far as I can tell, the moment the Mi Fit2 is paired with your phone, it is recognised by Strava as a heart-rate measurement device. Maybe it implements the relevant Bluetooth LE profile. The problem is, the Mi Fit2 only measures the heart-rate when you tell it, i.e. when the heart-rate is selected on the watch.

The way to force the device to measure the heart-rate regularly is by the way of the App. The following instruction are based on Mi Fit app version 2.4.3 (algorithm 1.0.95). Go to the play menu, scroll to the experimental section, and select behaviour tagging, and then select the relevant activity (there is biking). One thing to know is to stop you have to tap and hold the pause button and after some time, the option to end appears. As long as the activity lasts, the bracelet will measure the heart-rate regularly.

Upcycled Jeans Cases – various assembly stages

Google-Serve 2017

Upcycled Jeans Cases – various assembly stages

Every year, I have the opportunity to spend the day helping some social cause. This year, I spent a morning helping at social fabric, an association that helps refugees with sewing classes. We spent the morning building make-up cases which will serve as reward for a crowd-funding campaign later this year. The cases are built from recycled jeans, so our tasks where to cut up old jeans and sew them into the basic part of the case’s hull.

I really liked this project, I usually select projects where I can do something with my hands and don’t involve coding and I had done any serious sewing in ages, I learnt how to use a sewing machine in primary school, but this is really a long time ago. This association was also well prepared to handle our group: up-cycling is a labor intensive task, which can be well handled by a group, and we were organised in groups that performed the various stages of the assembly. Using our work to boot-strap a crowd-funding campaign was a smart way of using the available staff.

Recycling jeans might sound like a trivial operation, but this is something than cannot be done at scale, you need to find good areas in the jeans to cut the pieces, you get more by removing the sewn elements, like pockets, but this is even more work, we had sewing machines, but no un-sewing machines. This is a shame because the elements of fabric behind the pockets yield the most interesting patterns, the stitched areas are darker as they were protected from the washing. This is similar to what happens with bags, the interesting ones are cut on some pattern of the truck’s tarp.

One of the organisers asked me if I was considering buying a sewing machine, I had to admit that they are cool, if I had the space and time to learn to use them properly, I certainly would. All in all this was an excellent Google Serve, I just felt it was a tad short, I could have done a full day, in particular as this one was really close to home. I look forward to next year.

Mi Fit2

Xiǎomǐ Mi Fit2

Mi Fit2

I have been playing with wearables for some time, I bought my first pedometer in Japan (which I promptly lost). I’m no fan of big watches but I like having a bracelet that shows me the time and the important notifications.

In the past year, I went over multiple variants of the Fitbit charge, I broke the first by stepping on it, the second, the HR version, died because of some firmware update, I got a replacement – the next had the bracelet getting unglued, which I also got replaced, but that replacement also ended up with the bracelet unglued. The charging cables also started to work unreliably.

I did not feel trying getting another replacement, and I got really tired of the Fitbit software: no HealthKit support (I had to get a special app to do that), more annoyingly, even though the device captures the heart-rate the whole time, the data is not accessible, having a device that records data which you cannot get is worse than useless.

So I decided to go with Xiǎomǐ’s Mi’s Fit2. The review said the device was cheap and simple, with a very good battery life. I have been wearing it for more than a week and I must say the review were correct, the battery is still 42% full. Superficially, the device is similar to the Fitbit HR: a plastic bracelet with a display, with a heart rate sensor and single button.

A closer look shows a much smarter design, the device itself is a pill that can be pulled out of the bracelet, so you can swap bracelets and expose the charging connector. This means a broken bracelet is not a big problem, and that the charging connectors do not get dirty (a problem with the charge HR), as the charging connector grasp the whole pill, the connection is also more reliable when they are dangling off a wall charger.

I had a similar feeling with the software. The Fitbit software was always an over-designed mess, with some distinctive and confusing UI, that tried to do everything: you could track exercise, set goals, record meals, calories, water intake. There was desktop client (the device came with a special USB-bluetooth dongle), a web client. The device could notify for phone calls and SMS messages, but nothing else. Firmware updates just brought absurd features like the ability to set the text of the message displayed when the device was charged. Integration with other services was bad, integration with host operating system was horrible, no HealthKit integration, notification support.

The Mi software took the opposite route: the software does way less, but does it better. Localisation is there from the start, and imperial units are not not the default, neither are Chinese units (the device supports measuring the weight in 市斤 (jīn)< (rp>, which is 500 grams), the device can dispatch phone and SMS notification, but it also supports most of the chat applications installed on my phone: WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Skype. Calendar and e-Mail notifications are also supported. The notifications simply display the App’s icon. Having more information would be cool, but complicated with the vertical screen. English translation of the UI is a bit weird (notifications are in the play menu, but nothing serious.

The vertical screen makes a lot of sense for a bracelet, in particular when you target the Chinese market – writing Chinese vertically is much more natural than it is for latin text. The lack of desktop support also makes sense, it these markets, the computer is the rare exception.

I feel the Mi Fit2 is way less ambitious than the Fitbit HR, it tries less to be a fitness band and more to be an everyday device, with its cheap price, good software support, long battery, and exchangeable bracelets, I think it is a better device. Of course things could be improved, but at least the basics are there.

Hertzlichen Dank • Merci beaucoup
GS1 Switzerland


Herzlichen Dank • Merci beaucoup
GS1 Switzerland

Pour ma présentation à la Systemtagung GS1, j’ai reçu un cadeau : trois pots de miels. S’il est de coutume d’offrir aux intervenants un cadeau, c’est probablement un des meilleurs cadeaux que j’ai reçu à une conférence.

Pourquoi ? D’abord c’est un produit consommable, chaque fois que je reçois un objet non consommable en cadeau, je me pose la question, vais-je le garder ? Pourquoi faire ? Où vais-je le ranger ? Rien de pire comme cadeau qu’un presse papier qui sera jeté directement, sans pouvoir même être recyclé. Ensuite, ce n’est ni une sucrerie, ni de l’alcool, des cadeaux consommables classiques, mais qu’on préfèrerais ne pas consommer dans le premier cas et qu’on ne consomme pas réellement dans le second – qui n’a pas une étagère chez soi avec une collection de bouteilles d’alcools intéressants qu’on ne touche que rarement ?

Philosophiquement, offrir un objet permanent à quelqu’un, c’est prétendre avoir un rôle dans sa vie, un livre ou un vêtement ne sont pas toujours des cadeaux innocent. Offrir un objet impermanent, c’est n’avoir un rôle que durant un cours laps de temps – si ce faisant, le cadeau améliore ou change un peu l’ordinaire, c’est déjà beaucoup…

Matthias Wiesmann talking

GS1 Systemtagung

Matthias Wiesmann talking

This week, I attended the Swiss GS1 Systemtagung in Olten, a workshop on GS1 standards and related matters. There were three main themes: digital bills, food labelling legislation and GDSN. I also gave a presentation about the use of GTINs in Google Shopping.

The conference started with a presentation on the importance of standards – interesting even though I don’t need to be convinced about that. I found the sessions on digital bills very interesting, while there are EDI solutions for electronic billing, they don’t scale well for partners who exchange bills infrequently. The proposal for Switzerland follows a german standard: . This standard is pretty elegant: attach machine readable XML to the PDF file of the bill. The file can be sent around by e-mail or any other messaging system. The attachment contains (ISO TS 20625), the PDF follows the PDF/A-3 standard (ISO 19005-3). The approach is very similar to what is done on the web, where machine readable information in the format is embedded within the HTML, either in JSON-LD format, or in micro-data annotations. The standard seems to be on track to become adopted also in France and in Switzerland and could be used for other forms of documents besides bills.

The second session was about food labelling. I found the rules pretty pragmatic: only industrial packaged good need to be labelled, other products (handmade things, as well as artisanal produce) are exempt, but the information has to be available either in some sign or orally. The general expectation is that farmers selling pots of jam don’t have to do the exact nutrient analysis, although I wonder if in five years this won’t be doable with a small mobile phone ad-on.

The last session was about the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). This is basically the internet version of the old EDI point to point links, producers push product information into the network and retailers, but also certification agencies can consume this product data. The goal is that a seller only needs to provide the data once, instead of doing it for each retailer they want to sell their product with. The presentations were mostly various companies explaining their experiences setting up the system, which a big emphasis on the internal work to collect and structure the data internally.

All in all it was a very interesting conference, and I was very honoured to be allowed to present there.