Monday, December 16, 2013

SitAware: An Experiment in Improving Situational Awareness

One of our Krav Maga instructors mentioned a wicked "game" called Knockout. From a post on the subject, I found my way to this article on self defense. The author's thesis is that the majority of self defense should be focused on Getting off the X (that is: not being in the vulnerable situation in the first place). It's an interesting approach, and one that he hits home with this comment:

In terms of quality practice time in a 45-minute self-defense/martial art class, about 1-minute is spent on awareness (remember students, be aware of your surroundings”) and then 44 minutes is spent countering the attack you just let happen.

The absolutely rings true to me. (In defense of instructors who have said the above to me: I am attending a class to learn how to deal with the worst case scenario.)

This got me thinking: if situational awareness is so key, why not treat it like any other skill and look for ways to improve it?

With this in mind, I give you my latest little Tasker App: Sit Aware. Calling "Sit Aware" a program is actually being generous, it's really just a tiny little script that does the following:

- Every so often (say, every 2 hours during the day), Sit Aware kicks off
- A random number is generated between 1 and 5
- If the number is 1, vibrate out a pattern corresponding to the Morse code for "EX"
- If the number is 2, vibrate out a pattern corresponding to the Morse code for "S"
- If the number is anything else, do nothing

By now you're probably thinking, what the heck does this have to do with improving situational awareness?

The idea behind the program is that randomly throughout the day I'll be prompted with one of two vibrating queues. The one labeled "EX" implies that I should count up the exits in the room, the one labeled "S" implies that I should do a 360 degree scan of wherever I am, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Bottom line, I'm trying to nudge myself into paying attention more often.

I'm curious to see that what happens if I prod myself enough. Do I start noticing the above conditions without being prompted? Or am, and will I always be, oblivious to the world around me?

Here's a more formal description of the Tasker action:

SitAware (23)
 A1: Variable Randomize [ Name:%goal Min:1 Max:5 ] 
 A2: If [ %goal = 1 ]
 A3: Vibrate Pattern [ Pattern:0,300,300,900,300,300,300,300,300,900 ] 
 A4: Notify [ Title:SitAware: EX Text: Icon:null Number:0 Permanent:Off Priority:3 ] 
 A5: Else If [ %goal = 2 ]
 A6: Notify [ Title:SitAware: S Text: Icon:null Number:0 Permanent:Off Priority:3 ] 
 A7: Vibrate Pattern [ Pattern:0,300,300,300,300,300 ] 
 A8: End If 

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