Twitter Facebook Dribbble

Idea: Flight Status Update, Auto-SMS

The Problem

Last Sunday I took a flight from Brisbane to Melbourne with 3 friends. After we took off (and after I had turned my phone off), the pilot announced that due to wind conditions, the flight would be arriving 25 mins early at 12:50pm.

Normally this would be good news, however we had organised a car to pick us up at 1:45pm (allowing for a 1:15pm arrival and collecting our luggage). Because we were unable to use our phones during flight, we were unable to send a message to the person picking us up to let them know we were going to be early.

The result was that we ended up waiting at Melbourne airport for about 40mins.

 

The Solution?

As we landed, I thought a simple fix to this problem could be to add auto-sms update system. As you check in or book your flight, the customer is asked if there is someone picking you up at the other end who could benefit from know if the flight is early, on time or delayed.

SMS

Flight tracking apps already provide people with arrival time information, but they require the person picking you up to be proactive or have the app installed etc. An SMS (or I suppose email) is a very cheap and efficient way to keep everyone informed. Like any good relationship, communication is they key. The value to the person flying and the person picking you up is potentially very high.

 

 

Photo 24-09-2014 11 32 34 am

The Opportunity

A quick scan of the ‘Domestic airline on time performance’ stats for August 2014 (which is put out by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development in Australia), shows that:

  • 82.4% of flights departed on time
  • 83% of flights arrived on time
  • 1.8% of all flights were cancelled
  • Virgin Australia had the highest percentage of cancellations with  3.4%
  • Qantas had 1.1% cancellation rate
  • The Melbourne – Sydney route had the highest cancellation percentage 4.9%

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 12.16.07 pm

Here are the definitions for on time departures and arrivals:

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 12.19.36 pm

It seems fair to say that there are not a huge amount of flights that are arriving early or late or being cancelled, but there are certainly some and for the cost and complexity to build this, it could be worth the investment.

Why this may not get built

This idea is likely 5-10 years too late. It also could exists (does it?). A number of flights in America now offer in flight WiFI which makes this service redundant. Although in flight WiFi typically has to be purchased, which could mean this idea has some legs left in it.

Driverless Cars (1)

For most of this year I’ve been making time to learn about driverless car technology.

Humans driving cars is a problem. When we drive cars we are ‘machine operators’ and like any human who operates a machine, some are good and some are not. We get tired, we get distracted, we SMS, we get old, we get drunk.

Driving is dangerous. Driving is unproductive. Driving is wasteful.

My primary area of focus here is not the driverless technology itself, but the impact it will have on current systems and services and the in the new industries and services that will be developed as a result of it’s implementation.

Key benefits of the technology

  1. Health & Safety (lower incident rates of accidents)
  2. Productivity (more efficient travel times & ability to work or rest while in transit)
  3. Environmental (more efficient use of energy & a move to electric cars)

I’ll continue to research this topic and share links to research and development that I come across.

 

Below is a list of articles and videos I’ve found interesting so far and serve as a bit of an introduction to the topic:

 

1. (2011 TED talk) Googles Driverless Car by Sebastian Thrun

 

2. Google Self Driving Car Project (Official Google Blog, October 2010)

http://googleblog.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/what-were-driving-at.html

 

3. Google’s first prototype with no steering wheel (link)

 

3. Fortune Article on 3D printing human organs (link)

“A major source of organ donations? Auto collisions. Which means 3D printed organs won’t become a reality until we get self-driving cars, a surprising connection.”

 

4. How Google’s Driverless Cars Detect Aggressive Drivers (link)

 

5. Video of how the Google car navigates city streets

Product idea: SMS Based Personal Assistant

This past week I was in Brisbane promoting our upcoming design conference. I was scheduled in to give 15 presentations to design colleges / universities in 4 days.

The entire experience was made a lot easier because my amazing friend and business partner Leisha went to the effort of sending me an SMS at the beginning of each day with a list of the presentations I had that day, the address & location of the presentation and the room number and contact details of the person I had to check in with.

sms

The Experience

While not highly technical, Leisha’s efforts made a huge difference to my week. Knowing I had all the details I needed in my phone meant I could focus on the task at hand and enjoy my down time without having to stress about where my next presentation was or how I was going to find the room.

 

Airbnb

Last month I was in SF staying by myself using Airbnb. At the time they were testing a new service named Local Companion. There service is an SMS style conversation with a person employed by Airbnb to help make your experience better.

In the screen shots below, you can see I was asked if I liked a band (based on a YouTube clip) and then offered two tickets to their gig that night.sms2 sms3

 

Surprisingly great

In each case, I’ve been surprised how great the experience has been. With the Airbnb example, I was travelling alone and I really appreciated some local suggestions of things to do and placed to visit. While in Brisbane last week, it was small thing to have locations and names SMS’d to me each morning, but knowing that I had the info with me meant I didn’t have to stress at all about being late or missing a presentation.

 

Other use cases

It’s easy to see how this kind of personal SMS based, assistant-style service would be valuable to a lot of people. Certainly organising appointments etc. is useful, but cafe or restaurant recommendations are great, but I can think of 100’s of other ways a service like this could be useful.

If the person at the other end knew I liked to cook breakfast on the weekend (which I do) I’d love to know if my local supermarket had avocados on special for example. The more the app/person knew about me, the more valuable it would become.

 

Could everyone experience this?

Airbnb has the resources to try this out without worrying about the cost and Leisha was doing her work on our company time, but is it possible that anyone could pay to use a service like this?

Here are some rough numbers I’ve been playing with.

I’ve estimated that 1 person might be able to handle 10 – 15 customers at one time. One of the tricky parts to this is that you can see this service being useful outside regular work hours as well as weekends so the amount of time required to service them is not clear to me.

Let’s work with the lowest and most conservative number of customers, 10 per employee.

Leisha was able to make a big different to my week by sending me a series of messages that I would think didn’t take longer than 30 – 45mins to put together. Across 10 customers though, that’s 7.5 hours or a typical work day.

If our employee is earning $60,000 per year, each customer would have to pay $6,000 a year or $500 per-month.

When I asked a couple of people about the idea today, then said they would like to pay “about the same as I pay for Spotify”. Spotify is $11.99 per month in Australia. So our new service is 41x Spotify right now.

Looking around online, some virtual assistants start around $30 a month and go to $200 and above, so it’s likely my estimates are off.

 

Summary

This wouldn’t be a difficult idea to prototype and test to get more information, but I don’t have the bandwidth right now to do so. I believe that people would love this kind of service but I think the challenge lies in creating a sustainable business around it.

 

 

 

On a Shelf

shelf

Five months ago Tony (@adeperio) and I started working on a product to solve a problem we both had. We weren’t happy with the LinkedIn experience and knew a lot of people who agreed. We formed a point of view that professional story telling was broken and needed to be improved.

Since February we, wrote 44 blog posts, did countless customer interviews, flew to America and met with people from IDEO, Betaworks, Expa, Designer Fund & Emergence Capital & launched a mobile app prototype.

Almost everyone agreed that the problem was a real one, someone put it this way: “There are 1 billion people on Facebook and 250 million on LinkedIn. The difference we call ‘The Ungraphables'”.

Tony and I worked on this in our spare time by the end of June, we both needed some time off for the project to reset.

For now, we’re putting it on hold. We uncovered lots of good insights and came up with some interesting solutions, but nothing that really stuck.

Below are some of the more significant or interesting blog posts. We’re still both really interested in the problem and are more than happy to talk more about. Lots of people are playing in this space and we will be keeping a keen eye on them.

For what it’s worth, I think this idea which didn’t get published was really interesting. Hiding your profile behind a button that you could ad to you existing site (mock up here).

 

(Post 44) – .GIF mock-up focused on projects

(Post 43) – Video of a stripped back UI

(Post 41) – .GIF Simple one screen story

(Post 39) – .PNG Simplifying the interface

(Post 38) – Video example of a professional story in a .GIF

(Post 33) – Customer interview insights

(Post 32) – .PNG New interface concept

(Post 27) – Video of a user test 2

(Post 26) – Video of a user test 1

(Post 24) – Video of a prototype

(Post 23) – Defining ‘Professional Value)

(Post 20) – Comparing people

(Post 18) – Telling your story in 5 cards

(Post 17) – The marketplace / competitors

(Post 5) – Graphic designer resume survey

(Post 4) – Verified information

(Post 1) – Connecting the dots

UPDATE: The day I published this, LinkedIn announced a new profile re-design on their blog. http://blog.linkedin.com/2014/07/28/new-mobile-profile/

On Yo!

I’m trying to understand why I’m using Yo so much.

Everyone loves to hate Yo. My non-tech friends say, “this is the stupidest app ever!” yet they use it, a lot.

And when I tell them they app raised $1.5 million their jaw drops.

Like most tech/design folk, I install a bunch of apps each week, most of which aren’t there the next week. But Yo is. Why?

This morning I read this article on behavioural design by product designer Kursat Ozenc.

In it he mentions something called a ‘Motivation-Ability Matrix’, a tool that can be use to change customers behaviour.

 

yo1

In the article, Ozenc states that, “Behaviour change happens when the individual with the right motivation and ability threshold is nudged by external triggers over a designated time. Someone might have the motivation but not the ability, or vice versa.”

 

Yo with my friends

There are two or three people in my life that I’m in better contact with now because of Yo. It’s not an email or a what’s app or FB message, it’s just a simple notification that by itself says not much, but the between you a the other person, you add your own context.

For example, a friend and I have been trying to catch up for coffee for several months. We’re both super busy and we’ve been using Yo as a way of saying “I’m free now, are you?” If either one of us gets a Yo back, then we send a message or email. If not, then there is no more time wasted.

What I think has happened here is that we haven’t realised we have the motivation to let friends know that we’re thinking about them. Yo give us the ability to do this really quickly and it let’s you add your own context. We’re all busy and Yo understand that.

 

Yo as a service

On Twitter this morning @seanh listed a bunch of Yo accounts that you can follow that completely change the app from a simple message app, to a diverse notification service. e.g. follow RAINY to get a yo if it will be raining in your city that day

I’ve currently got the app set up to ‘Yo’ me when certain people I follow on Instagram post something. (Just add ‘IG’ then their Instagram handle on Yo. e.g. ‘IGDANBILZERIAN’)

 

Summry

It fees like the Yo API is providing the ability for Yo to become the trigger for people to achieve a bunch of different things (Yo as a service). And the product off the shelf, provides the ability and the trigger for me to engage in a meaningful way with my friends.

Looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Download Yo here

 

The Positive Posters Problem

In March 2009 I pitched an idea to a small room of people. The idea was to build a website where designers could upload posters about the things that were meaningful to them. The ideas they wanted people to talk about.

We launched a crappy site built on WP that September and something like 350 from 50+ countries sent in posters. It was a competition model, so we closed the submission part of the site in November that year.

The competition continued to run annually for the last 4 years.

Over that time we made improvements to the site and our community grew. At one point positive-posters.com was doing 10,000 unique visits a day.

Naively I never spent much time thinking about a business model for PP and as hosting charges increased and revenue (mainly from corporate event sponsors) decreased it became harder and harder to work on it.

Most of our team moved on to other positions in new companies. Unsurprisingly I started accepting paying offers to work on other people products and projects (The Loop, IDEO etc.) to help pay for my time on PP.

fast forward to today

On Sunday night I was thinking about the events of the last few days. What’s happening in Gaza and the tragedy of flight MH17. Since the brief of 2011, we’ve always let the PP community choose the topics that they create posters about. Sometimes they have been linked to events like the Japanese earth quake, or the riots in London in 2012. Other times they address issues that for the most part aren’t linked to a specific date like equality & equal rights, and global warming.

PP

The design our community creates are simple, beautiful and often confronting. Visual styles differ from country to country, but the one thing they have in common is they all tell a story. They capture emotions, a feeling or a moment in time. They let us all stop and reflect on an idea we otherwise might have missed. And in a week like we’ve just had, I wonder what kinds of stories our community would be telling if we accepting submissions today?

Today I’m wondering why, 5 years after PP began, we don’t look at PP as more than an annual competition? I wonder why we don’t look at it as a product, a service that we put real development and design resources behind and keep it running 365 allowing people to create and submit designs when they want about the issues and ideas care about?

The value of PP isn’t the code thats behind it. The value is in the community. A passionate, talented, global community of designers.

10506898_10152467067031840_324791047453848169_o

The content is good.
If there was every any doubt about how ‘shareable’ the content is that our community creates, well you just have to look at this post by popular media site 9Gag from a few weeks back. They shared a poster that Joey Klarenbeek designed for the 2013 competition. It received close to 500,000 like on Facebook.

 

What happens next?
I don’t know. I know the right people to build PP into something great, the developers, designers, community managers etc. I also own a media company that could in theory help with monetisation (through advertising).

There certainly is a part of me that want’s to open the site for submissions and just see what our community comes up with, but we know where that road leads (ho$ting & re$ources).

Some people spend years trying to find product market fit and then build something great. For what ever reason, PP resonated with a lot of people and its weeks like this that I miss working on it and engaging with our community.

The path forward isn’t clear for PP right now, but its getting harder to make a compelling argument to shut it down.

 

Post 44: Who works on what?

CD_MVP_V6_Wilson_Protoio1

 

 

There are lots of questions that we’re yet to answer with this product. How is it different from About.me? Who is the customer? Is this just for one vertical? etc.

The overall question we’re still trying to answer is “How might we improve the professional story telling experience?”

Over the weekend I met a bunch of folk in SF and finding out more about them afterwards is still a ‘Google their name and open a bunch of tabs’ situation.

The people I’m wanting to find out about often are involved in many projects or have made or contributed to many things.

Their personal websites are actually all pretty similar. Often one page with a bunch of text with links to things they’ve made or worked on.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 1.52.01 pm Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 1.51.56 pm

One thing I found myself wanting to know browsing around today was not just what you’d worked on but who did you work on it with.

At the top the .gif shows a mock of Shane’s profile with each of his projects represented as a tile and tapping on Skedadel, you get taken to a company tile with more info about the company and it shows you who works there.

This isn’t dissimilar to AngelList, but the key differences here are that it’s a mobile experience, and Shane can list other things about him like a Youtube clip or that fact that he’s done work with Charity Water.

All things that make up his professional story.

Post 43: More UI

In response to positive feedback on similar interface ideas, I hacked this demo together using proto.io.

If you’re interested proto.io is more complex and time consuming that Flinto which I normally used for app prototypes, but there is 100x functionality options.

Some notes on the design.

There are 3 images in the prototype and all of the images have been taken from Google or Instagram. This is important because I think it can be a mistake to use ‘glossy’ or professional images in mock-ups that they a regular customer couldn’t get their hands on when using the live product.

Each profile is made up of the persons LinkedIn description with images placed in between.

Towards the end of the video, we show how you might be able to tap on text, e.g. Facebook, to see more information.

 

Post 42: Examples in the wild, Wilson Miner

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 2.04.09 pm

Browsing around today I found product designer, Wilson Miner’s personal site. Elements are very similar to the interface we’ve been working on.

At it’s simplest, there is a photo, a coloured background and some text. Some of the words in the text are links to projects or work or companies.

In a way, Wilson has chosen to tell his professional story in a similar way to how we are thinking others could tell their own story with our product.

CD_MVP_V6_Wilson_Text2Wilson had a lot more text that they 200 characters that are in the other examples so I put this quick scrolling mockup together to get a feel for the experience you could have if we allowed the text to scroll over the top.

 

Post 41: One Screen Prototype

 

Previous designs have focused on a vertically scrolling interface where peoples experience and info is revealed below the higher level bio and photo info.

This mockup tried to keep all the info in one screen. Customers have a photo and 200 characters about themselves, but are able to make words in their bio tappable which revels more information about that part of their work life.

Post 41

 

In this example Erika signs up with Twitter, browses around and find our more information about Ryan’s work with IDEO and AIGASF.