Month: January 2015

Wearable Tech – Testing Out the Myo Armband

I pre-ordered the Myo Armband well over a year ago. After multiple iterations and a period of time for developers, Thalmic Labs finally started shipping their first customer beta versions of the Myo Armband. The Myo allows you to control (soon to be any) Bluetooth devices via arm-gestures. As the marketplace/ecosystem grows (think the iTunes store), you’ll be able to control more devices with more gestures.

Initial Reaction: It’s pretty mind-blowing to control the devices around you without having to physically interact with each and every single one. I personally prefer to gesture control devices around me, as opposed to voice control devices. Gesture and voice control I believe will be the future of interacting with tech, but they each will have their places. For example, I’d rather voice control devices in a car, but would rather control a home entertainment system in my house with gestures. Though I do believe much further down the road, they will exist together, but for the foreseeable future, each will be relegated to their own applications.

Thoughts Going Forward: If you look up reviews on Myo so far, they are fairly mixed. But I feel the poor reviews are by people who have never worked at a hardware/software company before and don’t understand/appreciate how hard this stuff is to build. My take on the Myo is this a great step in the right direction and knowing that it will get better with time is promising. I compare it to the Rio PMP3000, one of the first MP3 players in the late 90’s. I bought this 32MB device and have the same feeling, the technology itself is extremely innovative, but there are glaring holes in the technology that you would assume be solved over time. I think we all know what happened with MP3 players in the few years after the PMP3000, with a little device called the iPod and a company called Apple.

How It Works: Out of the box, the Myo Armband recognizes 5 gestures: wave right, wave left, spread fingers, fist (with rotation left/right), and tapping of fingers to thumb. Once you’ve connected it to the Bluetooth device of your choice (Mac, iOS, PC, Android, with more to come), you make a gesture to activate the Myo Armband. From there, it’s best to let the Myo Armband adjust to your arm for about 2 minutes. After it has adjusted to control the device you’re connected to, you must “unlock” the Myo Armband before executing an action. For example, say I have it connected to my Spotify on my phone. To turn up the volume, I must “unlock” by double tapping finger to thumb. The Myo is then unlocked for roughly 2 seconds for me to begin performing a recognized gesture. Once unlocked, I make a fist and rotate it clockwise to turn the volume up. Once I’m done adjusting the volume, I return my hand to a “resting position” and the Myo locks again.

My Use/Thoughts So Far: In the first few days, I’ve been doing chores around the house while controlling the music on my Sonos system. It’s pretty awesome. The downfall of the Armband at this point are that at times it identifies other actions as the “unlocking” and/or one of the five recognized gestures, thereby doing unintended actions. My current workaround for this is if I know I’ll be active in the near future, I’ll move the armband to deactivate the connection. Then, next time I want to change a song, I do the syncing action, then can immediately perform the 5 gestures, as the Myo recognizes it hasn’t left my arm, so therefore doesn’t need the 2 minutes to sync.

Some Investing Ideas for 2015

2014 has come and gone. The S&P 500 returned around 11.8% (not including dividends), which largely surprised most, especially after 2013 where the market returned >30%. My post in June of 2014 highlighted the possibility of a large pullback in Q3, followed by a strong rally into the end of the year in Q4. Well, I was generally correct, although providing specific index levels would prove how right I could have been. After my post, Q3 was largely flat (but finished up ~2.5%), and at the very end of Q3/beginning of Q4 we finally got the pullback (~7.5% top to bottom), but it wasn’t as pronounced as predicted (my prediction of ~15%).

If you look at the chart from that pullback, it is very “V-shaped”, meaning short-lived with a quick recovery in store. This “V-shaped” pullback has been a theme of this bull market, but particularly the last two years or so. Below is a weekly chart of 2014 highlighting all of the instances of these quick dips (click on it to view a cleaner picture). This is a weekly chart of the S&P500 in 2014. If you notice all but one of the five pullbacks have happened over a four-week period. The other one recovered its losses in 5 weeks.

It’s generally healthier to see a prolonged bottom (more people sell the due to fear, which historically sets up for a “healthier” continuation/upswing). With the lack of prolonged bottoms, this could mean more volatility and possibly larger pullbacks in 2015. Just a thought.

2015-01-04 12_07_07-7wy8uu7u (1504×722)

All of this said, what are some opportunities in and outside of the US (S&P 500) that I’m looking to capitalize on? Here is a link to a Google Spreadsheet where I conducted a study of different ETFs heading into year-end.

Given the study I’ve conducted, along with reading other trusted market pundits (NOT anyone who’s on CNBC), I think it’s safe to say that while 2015 presents its fair share of risk, there are plenty of opportunities to profit. Below are some of the ETF’s I’ll either be watching closely or have already invested in:

– EEM (Emerging Markets)

– TLT (20+ yr Treasury Bond)

– DES (US Small Cap)

– PSCF (US Small Cap Financials)

– PMR (Retail Powershares)

– CORN (Corn ETF, Commodity)

– JJG (Grains ETF, Commodity)

– EWGS (German Small Cap)

– RSX (Russia = high risk, high reward)

– BNO (Brent oil = high risk, high reward)

– GRK (Greece = high risk, high reward)

Other Buy Lists worth watching: 


– (full list here

Go to the Google spreadsheet to view the nine ETFs/sectors I’m wary of in 2015.

As for a year end price target for the S&P 500. I honestly haven’t had time to finish my analysis, but the risk/reward for the US is definitely skewed towards the downside, which is why many of my buys are outside of the US. >90% of the time, the monthly return of January is indicative of the return for the year (positive January, positve year, and vice versa). Last year January was negative, but we saw a ~12% return. Generally speaking, I think this could be a great year for stock pickers, much like last year. Although this year I fear a larger, more prolonged pullback. Not because of a recession, but due to a highly valued US market and opportunities elsewhere.