My incessant ramblings
None of my close friends or family own a Pebble smart watch and a lot of the HGV drivers I work with do not even have smartphones. With this is mind I was not very optimistic with the success of the Driver Timer app in the Pebble app store.
The Pebble app store offers a dashboard for developers where they can view their submitted applications and view statistics about that. One of the statistics is the current number of installs an app has, note this is current installs, if a user wishes to delete the app after installing it, this number will decrease.
To my surprise, 24 hours after submitting my Driver Timer app, I currently have 13 installs. I’m am yet to get any feedback from these users but I hope to get some eventually.
After finishing the Driver Timer app and graphics, I submitted the application to the Pebble app store.
I have considered this first submission version 1.0 of the Driver Timer app. The submission includes a mock up of how the app will look while browsed on a smartphone.
Shortly after submitting the Driver Timer, it appeared on the front page of the Pebble app store under the All Apps section.
The screenshot was taken from the Android version of the Pebble app store.
When clicking through to the application page, more information on the Driver timer is displayed.
The banner graphic is displayed along the top with a couple of screenshots of the Driver Timer shown below. Underneath a brief description of the functionality I wrote is displayed.
The app page can also be viewed on a computer browser (https://apps.getpebble.com/applications/54b2708e6357ce9213000061).
Unfortunately on the web version the background is auto-generated, presumably from the banner image and it does not look very professional. Other than that the graphics look great in this format.
With my Driver Timer in a releasable state, my next step was to release it to the public via the Pebble app store. I am not expecting a huge amount of downloads or feedback because of the market adoption rate of the Pebble is not very high, and their target audience is not typically truck drivers.
To submit an app to the Pebble app store, developers are required to also submit an app icon and a header image. For these graphics I worked with a graphic design student from the Arts University Bournemouth.
I wanted the graphics to be simple, reflecting the app itself, and I also wanted it to be consistent with the app design, so we used the same Roboto typeface. The graphics feature the same “drive” icon associated with the tachograph controls that I also used in the app and used as the main icon for the app on the Pebble’s screen.
The app icon for the store has rounded corners as do most others on the Pebble app store. The banner is a wider version of the icon.
I have been using the Driver Timer a lot as of late, and I am very pleased with it. I find it very useful for work as it really helps me to know how much time I have left. There is a situation that, even that it has risen yet, I often worry about, which is accidentally resetting the timer. The app was set up to reset on a single button click, this approach is not accident tolerant at all.
For my latest commits, I decided to incorporate a reset warning/confirmation window for the driver to timer to hopefully prevent accidental clicks on the reset button. The reset button on the confirmation window then becomes a cancel reset button, so to reset the timers the user would really need to be conscious with their decision and it stops accidental double clicks.
Added reset confirmation window
To create the confirmation window, I had to first create a second window for the Driver Timer. This second window then gets loaded into the Pebble window stack (http://developer.getpebble.com/docs/c/group___window_stack.html) which is pushed to the front on the stack (displayed on the screen) when the user presses the reset button. The user is then presented with the message, “Reset all timers?” and the action bar is changed to a tick for yes and a cross for no. Both buttons pop the top window (taking the user back to the main app window) but the tick resets all timers while the cross does nothing.
While thinking of other self monitoring products, health seems to be the first thing that comes to mind.
One common product is a diabetes blood tester that allows to diabetics to track and monitor their blood sugar levels to help them control their sugar intake.
For people who wish to monitor their health via steps walked, water and food intake etc, fitness trackers are currently a very popular product. The Pebble smart watch itself is able to do some fitness tracking, but more popular are separate wearable devices such as the FitBit.
Moving away from the health market, time keeping in general is a common way of monitoring yourself. For cooking, something as simple as an egg timer can be very useful.
Or for working hours, products such as QuickBooks (http://www.intuit.co.uk) can be used to track freelance work, or a time card machine where the user checks in and out of work. Newer devices even has a fingerprint reader.
All these products share a common theme, Panopticism. The act of being monitored, and knowing you’re being monitored causes us to behave differently. To make it easier for us to adhere to our own rules having clear data allows us stay within the guidelines.
EU driving laws can get begin to get complicated under special circumstances. There are a lot of exceptions to the rules provided, but it basically boils down to a drive of a heavy goods vehicle may drive for four and a half hours maximum and then is required to rest for at least forty-five minutes before they are allowed to drive for another maximum of four and a half hours. My DriverTimer application only aids with these rules, it does not take in account the weekly maximum driving time, which is fifty-six hours, or fortnightly maximum which is ninety hours.
Applications on the Pebble cannot run in the background for more than two hours, this is a limitation introduced to increase battery life and overall performance of the limited powered device. To take in account for all the many driving laws, the app would have to be constantly running, even during times when the driver was not working. It would also require a lot of information to be displayed on the device, probably through the use of an intricate menu system, akin to the TruckerTimer app on Android which would be very cumbersome on a Pebble.
Aside from the hardware limitations, there is also a time limitation. For me to implement every single rule would take a very long time, likely more than I have available for my dissertation project.
A more detailed look at special circumstances and exceptions can be found on the official government website (https://www.gov.uk/drivers-hours/eu-rules).
Apart from wearable technology being more integrated and personal with the user, something I wish to explore with my project, it is also illegal to operate a mobile phone or similar devices while driving. Hence why I am creating an alternative to the existing smartphone applications. As with the driving laws, there are exceptions to using a mobile phone while driving that can be found on the government website (https://www.gov.uk/using-mobile-phones-when-driving-the-law). Historically, HGV drivers are penalised harsher than regular drivers for breaking this law.
Within the last few years, the EU governments have been introducing the Driver CPC scheme (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driver-cpc-don-t-miss-the-bus). This is typically a five day training course that all professional drivers need to attend, else they will no longer be able to drive professionally. These lessons get into EU driving laws at great depth to educate drivers and hopefully make roads safer. Prior to this, no knowledge of driving hours laws were legally required for someone to get their HGV licence and begin to work as a professional driver. This is a worthy initiative but it comes with one draw back for HGV drivers. If a driver has the CPC qualification, they are likely to be prosecuted for breaking any driving laws harsher than a driver who does not. The reasoning being is because the drivers should know better.