Personalization in Wearables
There’s been much buzz around the wearables space in 2014 so far, with frequent news of Google Glass and rumors of an upcoming iWatch. Will they be successful? Will they become the smartphone product of this decade? We here at Spotsetter are quite bullish on the space, and we believe the key element for its success will be as much software as it is hardware. That killer feature is personalization, something near and dear to our servers. Personalization, while essential, cannot exist without two additional elements: context and privacy. Let’s talk about all three elements and how they interact to change and improve people’s lives.
We talk about personalization all the time because it’s the core of our product. In the context of search and recommendations (the flip side of search), it’s about knowing the person’s tastes and knowledge. The mission is to serve up a great recommendation from a trusted friend when you’re looking for that perfect spot, a place that takes account of your preferences. It’s further personalized by serving content that means the most to you, be it an Instagram photo from your buddy or a great review from your favorite Food Network show. To take it a step further, we want users to personalize how they get their recommendations, like getting many results on their phone but only the top 2 on their wearables, and only within certain time frames. A great example is Apple’s do not disturb feature which allows users to decide which calls come through in the middle of the night. Being useful and unobtrusive is the goal, which is further enabled with the next component: understanding context.
Is it a workday afternoon and you could use a solid cup of coffee? Or is it Saturday morning and you’re looking for some fresh air outdoors? We think about context all the time. It’s apparent in how we send notifications to your phone. This notion of contextual awareness is even more vital on wearables. Given limited time and real estate to interact, the penalty for not knowing the context becomes much graver. Let’s not incessantly buzz your watch and demand your attention when you’re in the middle of an important meeting. Some intelligent products out there today like Tempo Smart Calendar are tackling this hard but crucial element of matching context to personalization. We do that in the location space. We think about what information and the amount of information to present when you’re in front of your 84-inch 4K HD TV versus your 3-inch watch screen. We think about what to show you before you walk into that restaurant and what to show after you sat down. Context matters and is powerful when applied thoughtfully.
Finally there is privacy, something that doesn’t get enough mention when it comes to the user’s perspective. The chatter out there about Glass used as a spying device doesn’t quite compute, given there exist superior products for such purposes. When it comes to personalization however, for the software to be most successful, it needs access to all your private data. For the category of health related wearables, in order to inform you to take a breather or inject yourself with insulin, it needs to measure and track your most personal vitals. For a product like Google Now, it reads through all your contacts, Gmail, calendar, and even search history. That’s why privacy is paramount: the benefits of personalization are huge, but the downside of exposed information is equally large. The product needs to be built from the beginning with privacy in mind and delivered as promised to its user base. Our commitment to privacy is so that users never have to worry about their most personal tastes and social content getting into the wrong hands. Our approach stems from both product, technology, and company levels, where we systematically emphasize the importance of protecting users’ privacy.
Spotsetter’s technology vision is personalization with keen awareness to context and privacy, with the ultimate goal of being invisible. Regardless of the platform recommendations are presented on - a watch, a projection on glasses or car windshield - when done right it works like magic. Our users won’t have to explicitly search; they get a great recommendation at the appropriate time with the right amount of content. Then they continue to enjoy the physical world without a thought about technology.