target is new

an exploration in the new

Category: trends

Invisible apps paving way for watch life

Product Hunt is an important trendwatcher for developments in digital services via the new apps that are becoming popular. Yesterday they marked ‘the invisible app’ as a clear new trend. Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt made a list that consists of embedded functionality like Katch that record Meerkat live streams to Youtube, Magic as a SMS Siri and bots like Blippybot finding GIFs for you, and Clara scheduling your appointments.

At the Hackbattle of The Next Web we saw also this happen in some of the most interesting concepts that were presented. This was mainly triggered by the use of one of the companies providing SMS and voice APIs: Nexmo.

I think it is an important trend too. Not new per se. We talk about bots as service for a longer time, but it will flourish with the introduction of the new generation smart watches and other wearables. I talked on the ‘Notifaction Model’ for the new apps that are build on the context and sensor driven notification layer as binder of the services. See the presentation below for instance.

 

We are just at te beginning of our automated and artificial intelligence driven service layer we will use for daytime tasks. These invisible apps are the first iteration with simple tasks, but will grow in much smarter enhancements that we will control via our wearable devices.

Melting of human and technology to helpful companion

[in Dutch]

Parallel aan het doorbreken van de wearable als nieuwe vorm van interactiemiddel verandert onze houding met technologie. Met het dichter op de huid kruipen (of soms zelf in de huid) van de devices krijgen we een hechtere relatie. Het device is niet meer het losse gereedschap dat we bij ons dragen en gebruiken als we het nodig hebben, het wordt een verlengstuk van ons lichaam. Daarin gaan we technologie ook anders inzetten, als hulpzaam maatje waar we een directe relatie mee hebben en samen optrekken.

Deze ontwikkeling was sterk terug te vinden op afgelopen SXSW conferentie, vaak een graadmeter van welke sluimerende trends op doorbreken staan. Zo doet Aduén Darriba Frederiks onderzoek naar sociale aanraking op afstand via de TaSST sleeve. In zijn onderzoek is fascinerend hoe je het gevoel van aanraking opvangt en omzet naar een simulatie van een menselijke interactie. In zijn presentatie bij de Firestarters Haptic Revolutions avond liet hij zien hoe deze versmelting wordt bereikt via het toevoegen van structuur en beweging. Je moet diep kijken naar de eigenschappen van de menselijke huid om het gevoel te benaderen.

Bij de Myo vertalen ze spierbewegingen naar computer interacties. Het levert een soort van samensmelting van mens en computer zonder dat we daarmee cyborgs worden, is de stellige overtuiging van Stephen Lake van Thalmic Labs, de maker van de band. Het is interessant dat de Myo een omgekeerd haptic interaction-principe hanteert. Het is niet de technologie die aanraking als communicatie gebruikt, maar haptisch gedrag is input voor de technologie geworden. Uiteraard geeft de band feedback waardoor een dialoog zou kunnen ontstaan, zeker als de band meer gedifferentieerde haptisch gevoel geeft.
De Myo is een magisch device maar blijkt het nog wel lastig te vinden om bij een mens goed aansluiting te vinden. Als je geluk hebt leert het je gedrag in een paar uur kennen, maar het kan ook langer duren. Je kunt er op wachten dat het leren van de technologie van ons persoonlijk fysieke karakter een belangrijk onderdeel wordt hoe we de technologie gebruiken.

 Het gebied dat zich bezig houdt met de verregaande versmelting tussen menselijke en technologische interacties heet social robotics. Bij die versmelting van mens en technologie wordt een partnership aangegaan met de technologie. Onze relatie is anders, en we zullen ons gedrag langzaam aanpassen aan de aanwezigheid van deze nieuwe hulpjes. Net zoals we dat bijvoorbeeld hebben gedaan met de telefoon.

Associate professor bij MIT Cynthia Breazeal gaat in haar onderzoek in op de mens-computer interactie en bekijkt de dialoog tussen mens en robot die daarbij ontstaat. Het is de persoonlijke kant van robots, sociale robots die ‘high-touch’ met ‘high-tech’ verbinden. Dit is interessant omdat via emotioneel contact de meest effectieve interacties tussen mensen plaatsvinden. Technologie heeft door het ontstaan van social interacties veel kracht gewonnen in het communiceren. Samen met het emotionele contact ontstaan devices die je kunt zien als een ‘hulpzame maatje’.

Het onderzoek van Breazeal leert ons veel over de interacties met onze nieuwe partner. Centraal bij de interactie tussen partner robots en mens is het maken van adaptief gedrag. Daarvoor is een combinatie nodig van cognitief en emotioneel aspecten. Het onderzoek richt zich helemaal op de interactie tussen mens en robot, en de dialoog die daarbij ontstaat.
Een centraal thema is ‘humanized engagement’, hoe menselijk moeten robots zijn om bruikbaar te zijn?
Menselijk is niet hetzelfde als het zijn van een mens. Het ondersteunen van een menselijke ervaring gaat via een combinatie van sociale, emotionele, cognitieve en lichamelijke aspecten. De ervaring is meer menselijk als meer van deze dimensies worden ondersteund.

Een eerdere onderzoeksrobot genaamd Kismet communiceert niet in taal, maar in reactief gedrag en geluiden en bereikt daarmee een connectie bereikt.
De volgende stap is het laten leren van de robot door het spiegelen van gedrag. Het lijkt daarin heel erg op de manier waarop we zelf leren, wat veel beter werkt dat van te voren robots gedrag aan te leren.

De sociale robots bieden veel waarde als ze worden ingezet als partner van de mens, niet als vervanging. Sociale robots gaan over persoonlijke versterking, ze helpen om als mens beter te worden. De sociale robot is een hub tussen de digitale data en de professionele hulp.
Belangrijk daarbij is om sociale robots eerlijk te laten zijn in wat ze wel en niet kunnen.

We kennen dit lerend gedrag al in mindere mate van spraakgestuurde systemen. Nuance Communications ontwerpt deze interacties en hanteren een aantal eigenschappen. Naast het begrip van verwachtingen en de overwegingen wanneer spraak toe te passen in combinatie met andere interactievormen.  Adaptieve feedback is ook cruciaal;  gebruik ook ‘fouten’ in de communicatie als mogelijkheid om te leren

Een van de ultieme voorbeelden van een robot-maatje is Jibo, gemaakt door de startup van Breazeal. Het is een gezinsmaatje die probeert via de dialoog een intermediair probeert te zijn in allerlei gezinsdynamiek. Interessant is hoe via simpele gedragingen van de robot non-verbale communicatie wordt ondersteund.

De Jibo robot maakt nieuwsgierigg maar voelt ook over the top. Het is de vraag of we op deze manier een hulpje in huis zullen nemen. Hij is ook behoorlijk statisch. Een ander uiterste zagen we gevisualiseerd in de film Her waar het computersysteem letterlijk tot leven komt. Het onderzoek met Jibo leert ons het belang van het combineren van fysieke en digitale communicatie. Dit zullen we gaan merken in het haptisch gedrag van onze wearables.
Als conclusie van haar onderzoek stelt Breazeal dat er een nieuw gebied ontstaat in de interactie tussen mens en machine die veel weg heeft hoe we met onze huisdieren communiceren. Het is een mooie metafoor van het moment in de evolutie waar we nu staan. Slimme en draagbare technologie als partners van de mens, onzichtbaar maar altijd aanwezig, ongemerkt versmelten we met onze techno-assistenten en passen we ons leven aan. Het ontwerpen van digitale producten krijgt hiermee een nieuwe dimensie. Meer dan ooit is de psychologie van de mens nodig om zinvolle diensten te maken. Daarbij komt dat we ruimte moeten inbouwen voor een continue lerende dialoog tussen mens en techno-maatje.

The holy grail of the private and live moment

Last year I wrote a blog here on ‘the holy grail of the private moment‘. The thoughts were triggered by the smart decisions in the design of Taptalk. I see a similar thing happening with the new flow of live streaming apps that was hyped with Meerkat at SXSW and is now taking over by Periscope, the tool Twitter introduced yesterday earlier than planned (although it could be a smart strategy as well to let the hype grow via a new app and a quick overtake as soon as people start picking up the behaviour).

Both Live Experience tools are based on an integration with Twitter, and both work with the concept of sharing live streaming video on the very moment of happening. The trends is broader than those two (and there is a third one: Hang w/), Snapchat is having a comparable promise with their stories that remains visible for 24 hours. And also the ubiquitous dashcams in Russia that are spreading is part of the trend towards continuous close-by sharing.

The private and exclusive experience is as important to the love for these services as the live aspect of the video is. It is interesting that Meerkat and Periscope has a different approach in offering that private feel. With Periscope you can choose to share only to selected people. This has huge potential and could be well be the template for all other private messaging services to add video in the same manner. Think Whatsapp adding live sharing video.

Meerkat create the private feeling in much more subtle manner. And probably not even on purpose. By chosing to make the app very rudimental and embed it in your personal Twitter-graph is feels in all aspects as a private party you join as soon you enter the stream. By not showing active live streams outside your own group of contacts and also show only the streams as they are live, exclusivity is raised. And above all, the streams are just as private as the real thing. It is over as it is over. No life caching, just experiencing the moment.

I think Meerkat has with that deep connection to the actual thing a much better experience. I hope it will keep this strategy and will not be tempted to add extra functions that break that down. If Twitter and Periscope play it well they can extend the private video sharing into a more private messaging system.

Will SXSW trigger a new type of living media

This article was posted on Adformatie in Dutch.

Het is de nieuwste hit in de appstore: Meerkat, een app die op het eerste gezicht weinig bijzonder lijkt. Want laten we eerlijk zijn, is Meerkat eigenlijk niet anders dan een zoveelste variant op live videostreamen. Ja, klopt. Maar in vergelijking met eerdere vergelijkbare diensten als Ustream gaat het niet alleen om het maken en vastleggen van video.

Meerkat is gefocust op meekijken en is daartoe volledig geïntegreerd met Twitter. Dankzij die integratie vindt de app makkelijk z’n weg in je sociale context.

Een vergelijkbare transitie is te zien bij bij Snapchat. Een half jaar geleden schreef Naveen Selvadurai, de co-founder van Foursquare, een goede analyse over de kracht van het nieuwe Snapchat. Hij heeft tot nu toe gelijk gekregen.
Casey Neistat maakte er een mooie video over. Niet alleen Snapchat beweegt zich op dit gebied, ook Taptalk zit in de categorie van vluchtig gedeelde foto’s en video’s.

En nu dan Meerkat. Het uitkomen en ongelooflijke rondzingen van deze app geeft in mijn ogen de aanzet tot een nieuwe stroming. Ik noem die maar even ‘mee(be)leefmedia’. Deze trend berust op iets wat ook Twitter groot maakte: het gevoel dat je krijgt als kijker dat je er ‘bovenop’ zit. Dat lukt Snapchat met fotografie en dat lukt Meerkat met video.

Met het SXSW festival in aantocht zal de aandacht voor Meerkat komende dagen exploderen. Meeleven groeit uit tot meer dan het delen van een moment, meeleven is een nieuwe vorm van communicatie.

 

The breakthrough of the VR glasses is near

The post was published at Adformatie and is therefor in Dutch

 

Gisteren kwam een tweet voorbij van Linda Duits. Ze zat in de trein en had last van ‘onsmakelijke’ gedragingen van haar overburen in het stoeleneiland. Ik kon me er veel bij voorstellen en grapte met de tweet:

Tweet

 

Zoals vaak bij dergelijke gedachtes komt ergens vandaan. Heel direct was het misschien wel getriggerd door een foto die een paar dagen daarvoor rondging op Twitter:

Man met VR bril en milkshake

Maar ik denk dat het meer is dan een leuke kwinkslag. Zelf experimenteerde ik met de Oculus VR bril en heb ook een Cardboard van Google aangeschaft. Uiteraard. En vooral die laatste doet iedereen die ‘m opzet verbaasd staan over de impact. Juist in combinatie met de simpelheid, de combinatie met een standaard telefoon. De bril die op de foto wordt gedragen is die van Samsung, die sinds vrijdag ook in Nederland te koop is.

Volgens mij zou het best wel eens snel kunnen gaan met de VR-bril, juist in hele specifieke situaties en omgevingen als de trein of vliegtuig. Nu sluit iedereen zich op in de telefoon, een kleine stap om de VR-bril op te zetten. Het is een teken van onze veranderend begrip van realiteit. Maar daarover een andere keer.

Het mist nu alleen nog aan goede content. Veel is nog experimenteel. Er liggen veel kansen om korte verhalen te vertellen. Zoals Snapchat nu video op de mobiel opnieuw aan het uitvinden is, ben ik benieuwd of we snel een dienst krijgen die de YouTube van VR materiaal wordt.

Ik ben benieuwd. Ondertussen stop ik de Cardboard in m’n tas als ik met de trein ga.

– See more at: http://www.adformatie.nl/blog/de-doorbraak-van-de-vr-bril-komt-eraan#sthash.dbqDlKNF.dpuf

On a wristful 2015

The year 2015 has started. Traditionally I look forward to the coming year. Some thoughts for 2014 are still in the expectation. One important development we all thought would go fast were the wearables. Glass did not fly yet and is not expected to enter a consumer market soon. The principles in the Glass interaction for relevant services turned out to be the fundamentals for the wrist-interactions too. The postponing of the Apple Watch launch and the not optimal implementation of Android Wear made it slower getting traction.

I’m still looking forward to is the launch of the Apple Watch and the possible impact on this category. I have stated before my belief in the haptic aspect of the watch. I think it will be a very low tech implementation in the first version, just like traditional Apple product strategy: small steps that look disappointing but have serious impact in our perception and behavior. Our research in Labs on haptic and adaptive interactions will continue of course, being more relevant than ever.

I think that the one of the consequences of a serious movement to the wrist can be the growth of the use of phablets. It is of course already an important trend but it will be even more dominant.
The telephone-like device will have more importance in the home-browsing, becoming the first screen with the TV as second screen. The tablet with the current form-factor will lose its interest further. I am curious if we will see the 12/13” tablets come to market as the entertainment slate to have lying around at the coffee table. The use will change. In combination with a bigger screen it can replace the TV-settop box. Let’s see if the TV providers will upgrade their apps to a serious competitor to traditional TV set-up.

The home will be the domain of another breakthrough this year: the digital smartness in our daily life. With the leaked patent of Apple of a Bluetooth home-device and the activities of Google with Nest this will be a get some serious traction in 2015. In the Netherlands smart energy meters and thermostats are installed rapidly by the energy companies and people are getting used to more smart products. It will not be one integrated smart home as the futurist of the past thought, it will be a bottom-up development with more and more products connected to the net and controlled by the smartphone. The hubs will be integrated in the operating systems of our phones, but web based solutions will become more important as independent connector. The first new players will arrive in the market in 2015. Apple and Google will however try to move first.

This whole movement to the internet of daily life as practical execution of the internet of things is one of the big developments in 2015. As the smartness and data move into the cloud and the control and personal experience move to the mobile, we will have a silent revolution.
The world in general will remain unstable and old structures are more and more enhanced with new peer 2 peer markets and sharing services. This will be even more local based as the established sharing services grow into traditional companies that we will approach as traditional companies. The shift to more private social messaging that we have seen happening in 2014 will continue and be more part of our routine, also stimulated by the wrist to wrist interactions. The first messaging service that integrate marketplace functions will have a great success.

Snapchat will get more traction, Facebook will remain big as media for the older generation, but will be under pressure to change some of its new privacy terms. In the end it will lead to people more reluctant to share personal stuff. Google+ will remain in market but won’t develop anymore, Google will focus on messaging with Hangouts and try to add some serious private messaging platform again.

Just like a lot of other predictionairs I think that the VR-hype will not fully happen in 2015. Still, there will some real promising applications and experiences introduced.

So to sum up I think the home will be the main playground of the digital developments in 2015, with the internet of daily life as silent revolution. Impacting some of our habits and devices we use. The move to private messaging communities will have big impact and next to that we could be really preparing for a new sensing communication language that will however fly later.


Have a wristful 2015!

HappyTapping

The holy grail of the private moment

Since half a year now or so I’m using Taptalk. This Dutch/German app grew out of DingDong app and is unleashing a bunch of new apps that are a kind of retake more or less literally. Instagram introduced an app named Bolt just yesterday and earlier this week Mirage was launched, made by the people behind Yo. Both had done a shameless copy of the interaction principle of tap-to-share ultra short interaction model.

One of the makers of Taptalk did react on this fact by stating that they don’t really care because of their steps advantage in thinking and roadmap they have. And I believe him, not specifically for that roadmap, but because there is an angle in the Taptalk app that Bolt and Mirage are missing because they just focus on the quick share. The crux of the new movement of apps, that are originated by Snapchat, is the private character. We go from moment sharing – the field Instagram has conquered – to private moment sharing. This requires a different approach to master.

With Taptalk there are clear and hidden elements that create an extra private feeling. The clear thing is the location sharing. By adding the location of the moment it becomes way more private in perception. It seems simple but is so important for the feel of it. Also the way that only the one that shares reveals it location, something that was different from DingDong. I think this works better.

And there are also more hidden ways the app is more private I think. It lies in the obscurity of things. In the awkwardness of the sudden sharing, the puzzling interaction. Something that becomes of course less the case for regular users, but remains an important feel. The fact that there is no history, that there is a weird indicator in the avatar pics. The app is constructed around obscurity. Obscurity in an engaging way. That is different from the irritation factor Slingshot is generating with it’s forced communication chain.

The attention for Taptalk by Instagram is logical. They have no stake in the private message domain that is becoming more and more important. Like Whatsapp is replacing the function of Facebook and Twitter because we are rather sharing in our known groups. Instagram has introduced the messaging function but probably sees not many use (speculative). Mother Facebook is separating the Messaging app, Instagram is now doing the same with Bolt. Breaking up apps to their different functions is a trend on its own.

Unless I think that Instagram did not really get the essence of this new private moment sharing, they have a chance in succeeding as they find a way to embed their unique value of manipulating reality (filtering) and adding that to the private moment. Apart from that we will see that the new tap-to-direct-share interaction paradigm will dominate apps from now on. And so will private communication.

Evgeny Morozov inspiring a balancing of viewpoints

This evening I attended a debate session in De Balie organized around the Dutch introduction of the book by Evgeny Morozov: To Save Everything, Click Here. The writer was present to kick-off the discussion. Three others played the role as referent (Hans de Zwart, Linnet Taylor, Dimitri Tokmetzis). It became interesting as the floor was opened to the audience. I am not reporting on the session in detail, you can rewatch the whole piece if you want.

The value of the work of Morozov and this debate is not his standpoints as such, but it is the discussion it triggers. For me two important concepts are linked (and I don’t mean to be complete in the analysis, these are mine main observations).

First is the notice we have entered a state of total digital life. We are post digital and beyond mobile. We live our life like it is digital, in our behaviour, in our expectations. Next step is the connection with the real world, the creation of ‘solid’ touchpoints, tangible interactions. This is the solid internet. In Morozov’s world he is opposing the technology as solutionism for everything. He propose to think technology as part of our life, as something to live with, not to live by. We need not to be servants to technology, not to be pure slaves to data optimised behavior, we need to keep thinking. Something I agree upon.

Secondly we need to think how to react. We need to master this digital life, to learn and have literacy to play the system. We live in a world that becomes more and more defined in rules, adapting to our behaviour, but also trying to influence our behaviour.
We can fight this situation by ignoring technology, but I think it is a better strategy to learn to master this world. We will have a continuum of virtual reality that we can manipulate. The smart ones will generate ghost-presences, will learn how to bend the rules.

So we need to learn how to play. And we need to be aware how digital and physical layers interfere and add on. This is not something we can master in one iteration, this will take more like a generation. To help understand and learn is the important part of thinkers as Morozov. The biggest danger is the rhetoric and polarisation. I value Morozov as inspiration for this thinking, not as the end stage of an ideology.

Do we need an identity faraday cage?

This was rather interesting tonight. I attended a session on the topic of fixing the internet. Instead of talking on the infrastructure alone privacy became a hot topic. I did not intended to direct this discussion by wearing my Glass but it did. Some people seemed to feel offended by the device, which is interesting on its own. It started with Douwe Schmidt mentioning the presence of Google in the audience through the Glass and at the end of the evening Marleen Stikker asked me to declare why I put the device on as provocation. It was not, although I thought on it wearing the device. Also as I tweeted; it is very interesting how Glass is functioning as the sharp knife of privacy, making the invisible data collecting very tangible.

For me the most relevant question of the evening was that of Hans Maarten van den Brink. He wonders what to do; hide or regulate? I think that is the valid question. We have to deal with this reality in more intelligent ways than purely try to protect all our doing from leaving trails. Of course it is wise to be aware of what is happening and what you share without knowing. Data sharing literacy is so important. I hope though that we can come up with tools and solutions that alter our presence in a way we like, or give at least the control on what we want to share.

As I think that our identity is much more defined by all traces that we leave behind, and with that the profiles we build of ourselves, much more than our personal identity data like name or address. We need to design literacy first and tools for self control of our wished presence. The work of Tom Armitage I admire for that, how he is making a ghost presence.

That is the direction we need to think. More than using ultra protected devices. This is what I wanted to achieve with our privacy sensing concept and commission research on altering contexts.

I don’t think we need a faraday cage for our identity, that is not the privacy we need. I think that we need a tool that control the opening in the faraday cage, or better; we need a faraday cage that could function as our controlled self. In the meanwhile, check out the activities of the privacy cafe.

2014; balancing our life of captured moments

A new year has started. Time for some predictions to keep up a good tradition. We published already some trends on the Christmas card of info.nl (read them here in Dutch). In short: Mobile rules digital, wearables as next wave, from social to community, lean service design as approach and data as fuel.

Looking back at the predictions for 2013 as I did last year I got a feeling that a lot came true in the attention and intentions, but at the same time I could repeat the trends for 2014. There were others that coined 2013 as a lost year. Don’t agree on that, but 2013 was a year where some foundations for changes were made more than the changes itself. The explorations on Glass where important. The leap forward for electric cars. Drone delivery concepts, and the insights we gain from NSA. All important steps.

For me the big overall trend is the merge of the digital and psychical space that is tipping this year. We expected a lot from the internet of things in 2013 and we have seen a lot of attention and separate products like Hue and Nest breaking through. Still the real full connected context that shapes total new concepts and experiences is just about to start. Glass can be a driver. We played with the device build some apps already and preaching the impulse shaped services even more.

Glass and other smart wearables as the iWatch will come to the market and will connect with the psychical world via Bluetooth smart. In 2014 the first concepts and services will be introduced, conferences like SxSW and Solid will talk a lot on this, the real connected world will only emerge as the big players Google, Apple manage to create an OS-like environment where services can interact.

Google will launch definitely a model around Glass for extracting profile data into the services (Glassware) we gonna build, and Apple will introduce a variation/extension on Passbook. All seems to be in place for some serious steps here. Apple could even be the trailblazer if they get the model right in a way users understand we are entering a different world.

The model of impulse shaped services has a big relation with our even greater valuation of the now as. Snapchat is the signature service here that will have influence in new services part of existing social services.

Quantified self made it’s way to more people as predicted, becoming more part of services and products instead of separate things. Logging will be part of all system and crucial for the impulse shaped world. Interesting is how the data sensitivity will develop. With the highly contextual based services our profile and behavior will have even more influence on the day-to-day experience. If NSA secrets finds its way to a broader audience it can mean serious threat for the adoption.

We embrace also the real. 3D printing has a slow start, but could transform in a mean to freeze our continuous disappearing now experiences. Printing our life logging, expect a service for that the coming year. We need new services to make our legacy last longer than the moment. Looking for this balance between the even more digitized context and embodied experiences could become an important driver.

Have a great 2014!

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