Emotions play tricks on our memories, making our recollections of events much happier or heart-wrenching than they actually were. Smartphone app Expereal seeks to cut through those cognitive traps by allowing you to rate your day on a 10-point scale and organizing that data into easy-to-read charts.
The iOS app (Android and Web-based versions are planned) is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based digital strategist Jonathan Cohen, who was inspired by psychologist Daniel Kahneham’s 2010 TED talk “The riddle of experience vs. memory.” Kahneham argues that our memories are often distorted by cognitive biases. For example, one bad day can completely spoil someone’s memory of an otherwise pleasurable two-week vacation.
When designing Expereal, Cohen decided to stick to a 10-point scale to help users keep their ratings objective.
“I could have potentially asked people to pick a word to describe their mood, but what I like about numbers is that in order to get the full breadth and benefit you also have to enter tags and give meaning to it,” says Cohen.
Expereal’s first screen allows you to rate your day (or part of the day, depending on how often you use the app). Then you can note your location and the people you are with, add tags and snap a photo. A drop-down menu takes you to a set of charts that visualize your ratings by day, week or month, and compares your numbers to all of Expereal’s users or your Facebook friends who also use the app (data is aggregated anonymously). The “Expereotype” option is an album of your in-app photos with embedded ratings, tags and locations.
Cohen says Expereal fills the gap left by journaling apps and life-tracking wearable tech products like Jawbone UP and Nike Fuelband.
“None of these services in my mind really address the fundamental question–’how is my life going and how is it trending over time?’ I thought that by having a better understanding of this over time, it would be an interesting way to look back in order to move forward,” says Cohen.
Of course, Expereal is only as useful as the data you enter into it. The app’s notifications can be set to remind you to use it 1-5 times per day. While testing the app out, I found I was more likely to enter a rating if I was having a bad day because adding tags allowed me to vent. If my day was going okay, however, it was tempting to ignore Expereal’s prompt on my iPhone.
“It’s not immediately sticky,” Cohen admits. “But for many of us who are relatively happy in our lives, I think there is value in those moments of self-reflection.” He adds that Expereal is meant to “counterbalance to the immediate promises of contemporary best-selling self-help books and programs.”
I committed to using the app five times a day for two weeks and was surprised by my data charts. A couple days I had written off in my memory as a total waste of time (because of a headache or a task left undone) were actually rated quite high, and I realized I’m much more pessimistic than I thought I was. I already use Timehop as a scrapbook and Step Journal to keep track of my daily activities, but I like Expereal’s focus on mood tracking because it’s already motivated me to stop being so negative.
Cohen tells me he is continually working on the app’s data analysis so that the aggregate numbers aren’t skewed toward any particular part of the day or people who log onto the app more consistently than other users. He declined to give me specific numbers, but says Expereal currently has several thousand users.
Aside from being a handy life-tracking tool, Expereal is also beautiful, with minimalist graphics inspired by mid-century California design, graphic designer Reid Miles and Monocle magazine. The app was bootstrapped by Cohen, who is currently looking for investors and investigating several revenue models. Cohen envisions Expereal as part of a larger ecosystem that will eventually include books, seminars and other tools that tap into people’s desires to improve their lives.
“If you look at the world of self-help, that segment of the marketplace, there are all of these amazing books by behavioral psychologists out there,” says Cohen. “If Expereal can capture a piece of that marketplace, I think the potential is huge.”
Glympse has been in the news for its deals with the likes of Ford, Mercedes Benz and BMW/Mini to integrate its location-sharing and tracking technology into in-car systems on connected automobiles. Today it’s taking its expansion strategy one step further, with the release of a new software development kit, giving app developers and others the ability to include Glympse-powered location-sharing technology into their services with a few lines of code.
The news comes during a time when social-mapping technology is in the news, with Facebook reportedly in the process of acquiring Waze for up to $1 billion, and Alibaba investing nearly $300 million into AutoNavi in a strategic alliance to develop location-based commerce and other mobile navigation and mapping services.
While Waze has developed a way to collate crowdsourced mapping and traffic data, Glympse doesn’t create the maps themselves — as you can see in the example below, the map data can come from Google, but also Microsoft’s Bing, Open Streetmap and others — but its location-tracking technology effectively lets you create a real-time trail showing your route to a particular location.
The resulting maps are animated routes tracking your movements and other data like the speed at which you’re travelling, travel time, and expected arrival time. A person can also make the data ephemeral (like Snapchat!) by giving it an expiration date for how long it can be accessed look something like this:
Bryan Trussel, CEO and co-founder of Glympse, says that already there are a number of companies approaching Glympse for ways to integrate its technology into new applications — areas that the company itself just doesn’t have the resources to tackle itself right now. One of these involves integration into apps around air travel: tracking where a person is as his plane flies from point A to B, useful for someone waiting to pick up that person from the airport.
Trussel says that the SDK will effectively be a version of the private APIs that Glympse already provides to partners like the car companies and others like Garmin.
It comes at a time when Glympse will continue to expand that partner list, and expand out to other verticals. “We’ve done a major partnership every six months, and we plan more, at the rate of one every couple of months,” he said in an interview. “Some car partners but the majority will be outside the automotive space.” This could also extend to licensing deals for the Glympse technology to start appearing on mobile devices as well. And in fact, there are already a number of companies in non-automotive using Glympse’s technology already. They include Gripwire (app development), PetHub (pet protection) and Runtriz (for hospitality solutions).
Glympse will be offering use of the API free of charge to implementations of 300,000 users or less, in the form of a Lite SDK. That free SDK will include the ability to add Glympse functionality to a mobile app as well as a Map Tool, for developers to create and host a custom Glympse Map. The SDK will let users add GPS and location management, contact integration and viewer permissions as well as the coding for a user interface for users to share location from within the third-party app.
Glympse says that a further, paid commercial SDK is designed for developers and enterprises that expect more than 300,000 monthly active users, or need more support, flexibility with user experience flow, or the ability to create more custom features.
So why the delay of offering an API only now? Trussel says that Glympse has had a lot of incoming requests to use the platform from the beginning, but “we decided not to lead with the platform because we wanted to have it stable and documented. Having an SDK means dealing with support and questions, and we spent our resources working with customers directly and refining platform. Now we are at the point where our partners are using the platform in identical ways so we can handle a variation of people using in a lot of different ways. The timing will be right for us.”
Glympse has to date raised $7.5 million from investors that include Menlo Ventures and Ignition Partners.
Originally posted here: Glympse Launches Its First API To Put Location Sharing Into Any App Or Platform
Asana, the high-profile productivity startup that’s trying to redesign the workplace around tasks (instead of email), is announcing a major update today, adding more powerful search functionality, bug tracking capabilities, and manager reporting.
Search is the biggest update in this launch, with the addition of full text search, structured search, and custom saveable search views. Co-founder Justin Rosenstein explains that people spend a lot time finding information within an organization. But with the new search feature, Asana users should never face this problem again.
Essentially the default view in Asana to date has been “project view.” Now, with the launch of the advanced search functionality, Asana offers a “search view” of work, which lets you see the results of any search, from a simple keyword search to a rich structured search, in the Asana center pane. These views can be sorted by the task due date, creation time, or modification time. You can also navigate between tasks to see their details or select multiple tasks to change them all at once. And you can save these views to create custom reports that update each time you switch to them.
Here’s how it works. For a simple full text search, you can type into the search box and choose “Search Tasks.” For a structured search, click the arrow at the right of the search box. You can then specify Assignee, Projects, Tags, Attachments, Completion Status, Due Dates and more. You can then narrow down to incomplete tasks, those with attachments, or the ones not assigned to you. Once you’ve created a search you want to use again, you can click the star next to the search title to save it.
Additionally, Asana is debuting new manager reporting features to help managers keep track of their team and projects. You simply add your teammates to the “Assigned To” field, then filter by project or tag to drill down to the information you need. For example, Rosenstein says, a manager could pull up a comprehensive view of all the tasks their team is working on at the moment, their status and correspondence associated with these tasks.
Lastly, as Asana is fairly popular among the developer community, the startup is doubling down on bug tracking. Rosenstein says that Asana talked to a number of developers to determine what their needs are for bug tracking, and heard over and over that current bug-tracking tools are not up to par.
So search has been updated to work well for bug tracking. For example, you can used the saved search function to allow the QA team to watch for completed bugs that haven’t been QAed yet, or let the customer-service team watch the bugs they opened as they become assigned and then completed.
Rosenstein says this update is a big step forward for Asana as a productivity application. “This is only the beginning of our plans,” he says. “Search is one of the core pillars of our product, and we’re a company that is querying collective memory.”
This coming week, we’re likely to get a peek at Samsung’s next generation Galaxy flagship smartphone, and by most accounts, it’ll have an auto-scrolling feature that can use head movement cues to detect when you’re paying attention to what’s on the small screen, and when you look away. There’s no word on just how specific it will be, but others are prepping tech that detects eye movement with a high level of accuracy to determine not just when someone’s facing a screen, but also where exactly their attention is focused.
Phones that pay at least as much attention to a user as a user pays to them are coming, whether in the form of the Galaxy S IV or not. And when they do, they’ll bring a tremendous amount of innovation potential to the application market, lucrative opportunities for mobile advertisers, and privacy concerns that make those around the rise of mobile location services over the past five years look like a minor concern.
Auto-scrolling is just scratching the surface of what an app could do by detecting where a user’s attention is focused. It could definitely be useful, and make the notion of “pages” and even scroll bars completely irrelevant on mobile devices. But it’s also minor compared to how software interfaces might change based on the availability of new data about when and where people look and focus when they’re using an app.
Imagine a dynamic interface that can change on the fly depending on a user’s habits: given enough data, and enough clever engineering, the layout of an app might actually become the next frontier for personalization. Just as developers today are concerned with building recommendation engines and algorithms to help make sure that every time a user opens an app, they’re greeted with the most relevant and engaging content possible, tomorrow we could see apps that eschew the “one design fits most” ethos in favor of a strategy that really can be everything to everyone.
And speaking of content, when a device knows where your eye is naturally shifting, it also has a much better idea of your content preferences. And not just what kind of content you like – what specifically about each thing you seem most interested or drawn to. It’s not far-fetched to imagine the creation of heat map models even for motion video, which could analyze what caught a viewer’s eye in individual scenes; which characters are testing well; what types of objects in a scene with many strike the viewer as most interesting. All of which can help sharpen the edge on existing personalization engines for apps like Flipboard, putting a finer point on the personalized web.
Knowing where someone’s looking is like a marketer’s dream: it can tell you exactly where the best place to put an ad in an app is, give you remarkable insight on what’s working and what isn’t in terms of attracting consumer attention, and, when aggregated with other demographic data, make targeting types of buyers that much more effective.
It’s no secret that companies and advertisers have been looking for a way to boost the ROI of mobile ads, Google included. Gathering facial feedback data could act like a cheat code to help marketing get to the next level – provided it isn’t wielded like a heavy, blunt club. The possibility for abuse is tremendous here: imagine ads that periodically migrate to occupy the places where you find the choicest content in an app, or autoplaying video ads that wait until you’re paying close attention before launching into a sales barrage.
Like with any marketing tool, we’ll see both good and bad uses with face and eye-tracking tech. But both will have to contend with the privacy tangle that this new mobile data source entails.
Location information has raised a ruckus on more than a few occasions with consumers, and it still isn’t a technology everyone is completely comfortable with. Data gathered from sensors in cameras designed to detect eye and face movement crosses a whole new boundary when it comes to personal privacy, and its use will be watched closely by watchdog agencies, concerned users, and likely legislators, too.
The question will be whether gathering this type of data raises enough red flags to actually merit widespread resistance to its use. Location data managed to mostly squeak by, and is used by nearly every new mobile app that comes on market it seems, even when there’s no clear benefit to users. Will facial tracking pass the same test? Can even claims that it’ll be used in an anonymized format even be enough to assuage concerns? I have no immediate answers, but the mobile-first generation seems more willing to share personal data than older users, so it may very well manage a pass after an initial knee-jerk reaction.
Ultimately, a phone that knows you is better than one that doesn’t, and a phone that can ‘watch’ you will know you better than those that don’t. Expect this tech to take its first few wobbly steps over the next few years before properly finding its footing, but we’ll see plenty of interesting use cases between now and then.
Read the rest here: The Implications Of The Interface That Watches You
This is a guest post by Chris Hollindale, co-founder and CTO of Hasty. Hasty is a seed-funded stealth startup whose mission is to improve the health of humanity.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably measuring everything you possibly can about your business and your product. It’s how you improve things – you build, you measure and you learn. Why then, should you not take this same approach with yourself?
As Dr. Piotr Wozniack says in his acclaimed essay on the science of sleep: “by cutting down on sleep, we learn less, we develop less, we are less bright, we make worse decisions, we accomplish less, we are less productive, we are more prone to errors, and we undermine our true intellectual potential!”
In order to perform to the best of your ability, you need to get good sleep and you need to get enough sleep. Good sleep enables better decision-making and faster learning, as well as reducing the risk of long-term health problems. For an entrepreneur, knowing the effect that late nights has on your sleep is particularly important – would you stay up for a couple of hours longer if you knew that it was going to mean you would sleep badly and be less productive tomorrow?
With Sleep101 (made by the sleep-tracking device maker, Zeo), not only can you get started with tracking your sleep for free, but you can also benefit from Zeo’s extensive library of expert sleep advice.
For entrepreneurs, there is always too much to do, too many things to take care of, and too many tasks to prioritise. In small start-ups especially, it is important that the limited amount of time you have is utilised wisely, and that it isn’t spread too thinly among the mountain of potential things that you could be doing at any one time.
In particular, you need to make sure that the time being spent lines up with the company’s priorities and short-term strategy, and to avoid scheduling meetings (or distractions) at times when you’re at your most productive.
This productive, uninterrupted “flow time” is crucial for the developers and designers in a small company (as an example, Asana recently announced that they have a “No Meeting Wednesdays” rule to encourage flow time). By tracking when this flow time typically occurs, it’s easier to design a schedule that minimises interruptions and allows makers to get more done.
I used to work as a consultant in London, where I despised filling in timesheets. Now an entrepreneur, I’ve come full circle. I use RescueTime to passively track what applications I’m using and what websites I’m spending time on – it even handily graphs and charts the data it collects for me. With RescueTime, I get all the benefits of being able to measure and improve my productivity, without any data entry pain at all.
RescueTime (Mac, Windows & Android; free and paid plans)
I find myself being overflowed with ideas over the course of the day, from wacky new product ideas to ways in which I can optimise a specific section of code.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to track and harness those ideas that can make a positive difference to your company, no matter when they happen to arrive. It could be anything: over the last few days I’ve had ideas for new product features, potential advertising campaigns, strategies for hiring the right type of people to fit into our team, and ways of creating the company culture we want to build. They’re all important, and they all need recording.
I’ve found Workflowy to be the easiest and best tool for tracking my ideas – and its mobile versions allow me to note down ideas as and when they arrive, wherever I am. It’s an incredibly simple product, and sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
Workflowy (Web & iOS; free)
If you really want to know your own body and truly quantify yourself, there is no better place to go than WellnessFX, whose service provides you with a more comprehensive health diagnosis than you could ever wish for. From just a drop of your blood, they can calculate your cholesterol, inflammation and nutrient levels, and over twenty other actionable data points.
Entrepreneurs lead an extreme lifestyle: working hard, working late and enduring many stresses, frustrations and failures is a tough business. As such, it makes sense to know that you’re not putting yourself at any kind of long-term risk. A particular cause of concern for entrepreneurs is caffeine intake – wouldn’t you want to know if all that coffee was causing adverse effects to your immune system? Additional caffeine might help you get some extra work done, but if it puts you at a greater risk of falling ill, is it really a worthwhile trade-off?
The analytics provided by WellnessFX can give you a detailed understanding of your own health, warn of any potential health risks, and is a great preventative measure. WellnessFX also provides tailored dietary recommendations in order to help you out where you have areas for improvement.
WellnessFX (Limited US states; Baseline package: $199)
In terms of your health, food consumption is the most important metric to be tracking – “you are what you eat.” If you have aspirations to feel fitter, healthier and more energetic, you should start by addressing the food that you’re eating.
Tracking everything that you eat, no matter how small, is an eye-opening experience. Did you know that Domino’s have a pizza on their menu that contains 3840 calories? Or that there are ten teaspoons of sugar in a can of Coke? When you add them up over the course of days, weeks and months, some of these nutritional figures can be frightening.
For entrepreneurs, feeling healthy and energized is not a choice; it’s a pre-requisite. By tracking what you eat with an app like MyFitnessPal, you become more self-accountable, which makes it easier to make lasting changes to your food consumption. There are many beneficial applications for entrepreneurs, from making sure your diet is not negatively affecting your energy levels to monitoring your net calorific consumption in order to help you lose weight.
But while MyFitnessPal allows you to track your food consumption, it doesn’t do it for you passively. A much-needed innovation in the food tracking space is a product that can ease the data entry burden.
MyFitnessPal (Web, iOS & Android; free)
Self-tracking is easy, and as per the 80-20 rule, you’ll get most of the benefit simply by getting started. As an entrepreneur you’re already aware of the benefits of measuring, learning and improving – why not get started today and use this same philosophy with more of your own life?
Excerpt from: Top 5 quantified self apps for entrepreneurs