Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

Augmented Reality

February 24, 2012

I’ve written previously about Augmented Reality. I’m surprised that it hasn’t gained much more traction in the past couple of years. I still feel like this could be the next big thing.

An intro to Augmented Reality, or AR:

Examples include:

Yelp’s Monocle

Golf Range Finder

Star Chart

Wikitude

DishPointer

SketchWiz

New York Subways

Soccer

What ideas do YOU have for an Augmented Reality app?

Advertisements

Geolocation and Personal Safety

October 1, 2010

I had the privilege of facilitating a session on Geolocation for PodCamp Boston 5 last weekend. The conversation was excellent, and I met a lot of great people there. The slide deck is available on SlideShare.net.

A couple weeks ago, I had a great conversation with Gene Blishen, President of Mt. Lehman Credit Union in BC, near Vancouver, on the CU Water Cooler on the potential uses of geolocation in the financial arena.

With Gowalla and Foursquare becoming increasingly popular, and new services such as SCVNGR and Topguest coming into their own, it’s easy to get caught up in the check-in mania.

But at sessions such as PodCamp, and in private conversations, it’s easy to lose the voice of many people who declare, “I will never even sign up for a check-in service because it feels too unsafe.”

Feelings such as these, which are far from a minority point of view, often get overlooked or dismissed by those in geolocation for whom personal safety is not a consideration. These feelings, combined with the recent tragedy of the murders of two real estate agents in Ohio got me thinking about geolocation from the reverse point of view: What if we could use geolocation to make people SAFER?

So I did some research (okay, I looked up “Personal Safety” in the iPhone app store), and discovered that there ARE a handful of iPhone apps that are doing just that, making people MORE safe, and using geolocation technology for that purpose.

Here’s a quick rundown of four:

iWitness – This app appears pretty robust. Not only can you use it send either a safety alert or medical alert, you can also set up a group of up to 16 friends and colleagues who will get an email when you activate the distress call. Your location is automatically included in the distress notification. Another feature is record mode where it will send video and audio of your current situation to the company’s servers. This could be potentially useful in locating the owner in a kidnapping situation.

Rescue – This app is also robust, offering a number of safety features such as auto-detecting what country you are in so that the emergency phone number (911 in the U.S. but different in other countries) is immediately activated with use. Your GPS location, including Google Map link, and phone number is sent to emergency responders when activated. Rescue also puts the iPhone into an alarm state, setting off an audio and visual alarms on the device itself. This company’s web site features two videos which explain how to personalize and use this app.

Silent Bodyguard – Is similar to Rescue, except that instead of the device going off, it remains silent and innocuous while sending out distress emails, texts, tweets and Facebook updates, informing the contacts that the owner is in trouble, and sending the location information as well. I’d be interested if folks in law enforcement have opinions or research on whether silent or full-alarm is the way to go. I bet it probably depends on the situation. My guess is that it’s best to DETER people with harmful intent by making them aware that should any harm happen to the owner, a slate of people including police will be instantly notified with the owner’s current location. Perhaps a big obtrusive lapel button could be worn that says something along the lines of “Don’t mess with me, police and friends know exactly where I am.”

Safety Button – For times when someone is feeling unsafe while out and about, he/she can launch this app, and the user’s location and steps are then transmitted to the company’s servers. If the owner is then met with a dangerous situation, he/she can press the help button alerting one chosen friend with a message that includes the location.

I look forward to the GeoM conference in Boston this Monday. I hope some of these issues are addressed, but I have a feeling they won’t.

Ooops, Mt. Lehman CU did it again

March 17, 2010

Mt. Lehman CU continues its amazing path of innovation in the credit union movement. Mt. Lehman was the first credit union to offer text message alerts five years ago, and now they have created their own iPhone app for banking, called MobileWeb. Props to Gene Blishen and the team of foward-thinking CU professionals at Mt. Lehman! You’ve done it again!

One of the key takeaways here is that Mt. Lehman CU is innovative BECAUSE of their small size (less than 3,000 members and less than 12 employees), not in spite of their small size. That, and the fact that they have excellent brains. Oh yeah, and they live in one of the more beautiful parts of the world, British Columbia, home of the recent 2010 Winter Olympics!

BTW, I’ll be using Mt. Lehman’s latest innovation in an example of how to spread the word using social media techniques in the workshop webinar I’m delivering tomorrow: Bring Your Binoculars

Recent Watershed Developments: Augmented Reality

October 2, 2009

Augmented Reality has come to the iPhone. This is big news. What is Augmented Reality? Here is the wikipedia article on it. An example:

Info on Yelp’s Augmented Reality offering.

Why is this a big leap forward? For several years, the new layer of information supplied online, that overlays the physical world (think Geocaching, Brightkite, GPS devices, etc) has been hidden from ordinary view. The concept of Augmented Reality has been around for a few years now, with perhaps the most well known example being the yellow first down line that is superimposed in real-time in televised national football. But that is a high-cost application available only to major businesses that can afford to produce it. The new class of Augmented Reality applications for the iPhone are the first that make World 2.0 visible to regular people on a consumer-level device. Also, anyone who writes software can potentially create an AR app for the iPhone. The possibilities for new applications seem endless. This is absolutely a game changer.

Augumented Reality for the iPhone is truly a major development. I’d love to hear what you think about it.

Next week, I will be publishing two more recent watershed developments, along with what I consider to be a huge punch in the face to credit union and community banking marketers everywhere.

The other recent watershed developments: Twitter bankingFinovate NYC 2009

The car is about to go social

January 27, 2009

Yesterday, I saw this tweet from Gordon Snyder:

RT @michaelgass: The Next Social Network? Your Car http://snipr.com/al9an about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

I was very intrigued as I read the AdAge article referenced in the tweet above. It’s exciting to see Ford working on going social. The ramifications of auto makers embracing social technology are big. The car going online and social is a big part of the realization of World 2.0.

In order for car makers to do it right, they definitely need to embrace the car as platform, as API. Closed, proprietary systems are going to be barriers and not fully embraced. Open systems which acknowledge that they aren’t the center of the universe, and that people continue to exist even when they aren’t sitting in their car, will win.

Dunkin' Donuts on TomTom GPSrWhat are the possibilities for a social car? Perhaps it’s better to think of it as an online car, because social networking will not be all that it can do.

The GPS navigation system is the first step in having some car/location “awareness”. GPS with real-time traffic updates is step two. Step three is to add more/better information about the location you are in, and your friends’ locations. Imagine driving into a town that you are not familiar with, being hungry, and your GPS/social car tells you that one of your friends recommends a quaint pub five blocks away. Or that you are driving in your hometown, and your car tells you that two of your friends are in the local coffee shop nearby. In a certain sense, what I am describing is a mashup of Yelp! and BrightKite, that works in your car. And to be truly user-friendly, such a system would have to work equally well when you are out of your car, and seamlessly integrate with your smartphone of choice.

It will be critical for any development of these systems to allow the user to have exactly what information she wants displayed, as well as to allow exactly what information is given to others. If you need alone-time, you need to be able to disable the broadcasting of your location, and turn off seeing the location information of others.

With this type of convergence, we are truly on our way to World 2.0.

Similarly, I wrote about why the shared branching networks need to get their ATM and branch locations into the TomTom GPS navigation system.

More recently, I saw this exact technology implemented on an iPhone by mFoundry at last year’s Finovate NYC conference held by NetBanker. It was quite impressive to press a button to get exact location and travel instructions, as well as phone number, for the nearest bank/credit union branches. The next step for financial institutions is to have this type of technology merge with social networks/reviews and to be conveniently displayed no matter whether you are inside your car or walking outside with your smartphone.

Of course the other important factor to address in the online/wired/social/whatever car is to make sure the driver is not distracted. Right now, too many people are looking down at their smartphones, texting, trying to look at GPS information, reading their emails, blogs and tweets, while driving. If we look at car as platform for this, perhaps what makes the most sense is to plug the smartphone into the car (perhaps wirelessly via bluetooth), and have browsed web page spoken out loud, in the way that GPS navigators do. Also handy would be voice-to-text conversion so that you could respond back without taking your eyes off the road.

It’s just nice that a corporate giant such as Ford is not asleep at the wheel, and is on the road to embracing the online social landscape that so many are adopting. In addition, Ford has had the foresight to invite social media evangelist @ScottMonty to head their social media team.

Finovate NYC

November 13, 2008

A month ago I had the privilege of attending Finovate NYC, as a guest blogger. The event is hosted by Jim Bruene, President of the Online Banking Report and NetBanker, and features short 7-minute presentations from 24 leading innovators in the financial world. It’s a wonderful format, featuring twelve presentations in the morning and twelve after a lunch break. The brief duration of each presentation forces the presenters to be very clear about what their product is, who it is for, and how it is useful and different. Props to the event organizers for fading out the presenter and fading up the music right at the time limit to keep things focused, moving, and on-track for the audience.

Read my event tweets here.

Because of twitter conversation, I knew that Mark McSpadden and Lisa Randolph of Banktastic were going to be there, as well as Ron Shevlin and Parisian Jean-Christophe Capelli, who I first met at BarCampBankSF. What I didn’t know until the morning of the event was that Apoorv Dwivedi, who I met at BarCampBankBC, came down from Alberta.

A pleasant surprise was that there were also several other twitterers who I had never met before in the audience of approximately 200 people. Read the entire Finovate twitterstream here.

Is there value to all the twittering of one event? You betcha! Just one benefit is that finance professionals from all over the world got a sampling of the important information being presented. This creates additional exposure and added reach for the presenters as well as the conference itself. My favorite tweet reply is this one from @mrsmcj, who at the time was attending the Love at First Website conference in Portland, OR: “@mmpartee, @rshevlin. Thanks for the finovate tweets! It was almost like being at two conferences.”

My favorite presentation at the event was from Carlos Cardilli of mFoundry. He did his entire presentation without slides, just showing what he was doing on his iPhone. mFoundry has created an iPhone interface that banks or credit unions can give to their members to enable banking transactions. It’s much more than just online banking brought to a mobile phone however. At it’s core, that is what it does. You can schedule bills to be paid in advance, using the elegant date sliders that the iPhone employs. You can also make transfers between accounts naturally. Where it REALLY gets fun is the ATM and branch locator. Since the iPhone “knows” where it is, and has access to map data, this mFoundry application can locate the ATMs and branches nearest to you. You can then follow the directions the iPhone provides to get you there. Not only that, but it provides you with a phone number, so you can call the branch right from your iPhone if you so desire. This may not be mainstream yet, but with so many companies coming out with iPhone wanna-bes, this is clearly the wave of the future. I’d recommend that all credit unions hop on board as soon as feasible.

I was impressed with many of the other presenting companies as well. Also worthwhile are: Vidoop, SmartHippo, Credit Karma, Lending Club, FiLife, and Loanio. It was particularly interesting to see the FiLife and Loanio presentations since both of these companies were in pre-public release stages at BarCampMoneyNYC just a few short months ago in April.

Is the iPhone going to revolutionize banking?

July 14, 2008

Ron Shevlin wrote a post this morning about why the iPhone isn’t going to revolutionize banking. His point is that there may be some evolution, but not revolution. My counterpoint is that when talking about degrees by which these things happen, it can be difficult to draw a line between these two. And waiting for that line to become bright is a risk that some might not want to take.

Ron thinks that there are too many people rushing in to these revolutionary technologies. I actually think it’s the opposite: there are far more people in the financial world who are taking a wait and see attitude than those who are claiming there is a revolution and jumping in feet first. It’s just that the feet-first types are the vocal ones who make the noise and get the attention. Because, really, who wants to admit they are going to take a wait-and-see approach? I give props to Charles Bruen for taking a hard-line wait-and-see stance on mobile banking.

But let me back up to Ron’s bigger issue; what is revolutionary and what is evolutionary? While it is indeed hard to determine what is truly “disruptive” and “revolutionary” (yes, these words are used too often) at the time they are occurring, nevertheless, some of these things DO take root and create significant change. As one example, in 2005, Facebook had but one million users. Hardly a disruptive revolution, right? But it had momentum and was growing fast, and now has 80 million users. That would make Facebook the fifteenth largest country in the world if it were a country. Three years ago, most people had barely heard of it. Today it’s a part of the culture. When exactly did it go from a blip on the radar screen to mainstream?

I believe the same is true for mobile banking, P2P lending, and PFMs. Yes, these revolutions are not happening violently because banking isn’t sexy. But if there were any way I could get off the sidelines and do something with these technologies, I would be in the game. I give huge props to Gene Blishen for being light years ahead of the curve on what mobile banking can be and do.

Dan Dickinson, in a response to Ron’s post, asks if there is anyone on twitter who does NOT use an iPhone, and states that he will never buy anything made by Apple. As far as the game-changing nature of the iPhone and mobile connectedness, this misses the point.

The point is this: for those of us who were tethered to a desk in order to use our PCs and access the net, laptops were a revolution. Now you could go anywhere with a laptop, be connected/do your work, but you could only connect to the entire internet when you found wifi, which was rare or expensive and often both. With an iPhone (and to some degree any smart phone) you can connect to the net ANYWHERE you have a cell phone connection, which these days seems like just about anywhere. That’s powerful, game changing stuff, and also not as clunky and bulky as a laptop.

But again, here’s the real reason why people LOVE their iPhones, and why it’s indeed a paradigm-shifting, disruptive, revolution (he he!): Because it’s so FREAKING PERSONAL. iPhone owners feel that it’s “my” internet on their iPhones, it’s MY connection to MY friends and MY music and MY phone and MY pictures and MY contacts and MY address book and MY calendar and MY videos and MY games and MY apps! I can customize it with pictures of MY friends and MY kids on MY home screen, and take a photo ANYWHERE I am and instantly email it to my friends. Try wrestling away any device (no matter whether its an iPhone or something else) that has so much personalization and connection… it can’t be done. And to the extent that BlackBerries and Treos do this too, well, yes, that’s why their users love them just as much as us Appleheads love our iPhones.