Vector-awareness, day 2

A picture named drum.jpgI’m kind of disappointed that there wasn’t much uptake on other blogs re what comes after location — but not really surprised. There’s an almost unconscious presumption that anything innovative will come with an earth-shaking Steve Jobs-like announcement, not with a short and simple blog post. Regardless I think it’s an important idea, one worth beating the drum about.

Kris Cobbaert voices a frequent concern — how could my Droid know what my intentions are? How could it know which direction I’m going in? It’s a good question, but I wouldn’t have suggested this if I hadn’t already very clearly told it where I am going, in at least two ways:

1. The Droid has a very nice Maps app that’s obviously a Droidization of their Maps website. On each segment of my trip, usually at the beginning of the day, I program it with my goal for the day. That way I can instantly see how I’m doing by simply turning the Droid on, visiting the Maps app and refreshing.

2. Even if I haven’t used the Maps app to plan my day, there’s always GPS. It can plot out a series of samplings, and unless I’m traveling in circles (happened yesterday in Central Park), it should be pretty obvious whether my goal is east or west of where I am. At least it could skew the recommendations in what is my likely direction, based on GPS data.

An aside, ever had the experience in an airport as you walk past a door that automatically opens when someone approaches it? The same algorithm that the Droid uses could be used here to keep the door closed if you’re walking by the door and not into it.

A valid point was raised several times — if you’re using the Droid to locate an emergency service, like a hospital, you want the maps app to ignore your vector and just tell you where the closest emergency room is. No doubt there’s a difference between a life-saving doctor and a mood-saving Starbucks.

Proximity is too crude a measure sometimes, sometimes we want our algorithms to be aware of where we’re going. That is, to be vector-aware.



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