Monday, January 09, 2012

Context awareness

The age of mobile computing & ubiquitous sensors creates big opportunities to bring context awareness into products & technology. I think of context as the combination of personal preferences / habits on one hand, and things like location, time, weather, today's calendar (meetings, travel etc), for example:

  • I'd like to switch on our heating system 30 minutes before getting up
  • I usually drink coffee around 7am and 10am
  • I try to workout about 3 times per week
  • When I'm away from home I call my wife first thing in the morning. When in a different timezone I try to call her at a time convenient to her :)
  • When I approach a meeting venue in San Francisco I'm probably going to want to find parking
  • I call my family in the Netherlands on their birthdays
  • I try to clear my calendar on the day after a big snow storm in Tahoe;)

(some of these are more serious than others... you be the judge).

Most of these could be achieved by smart management of home screen shortcuts.

The key to translating these sets of ideas into useful products that are fun to use in daily life is to strike the right balance between being proactive and being "modest". In other words, don't overdo it... maybe I don't want to be reminded about my caffeine addiction today ;)