22 April 2012

Rise of smart mobile services

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Saar Gur, general partner at Charles River Ventures, discusses a new generation of smart mobile services, which provide user information in the background to make accurate predictions around real-time user intention and will offer suggestions, results and different user interfaces/interactions based on their prediction of state.

“As I think about what these new Smart Services will look like, here are some of the characteristics I have been noodling on:

  • The most disruptive ones will change our physical interactions and be additive to our offline experiences.
  • Services will process things in the background, predicting our state with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Many will primarily interact with the user through interruptions — and they only interrupt when they have something of value to add. (e.g., for Uber: Your car is arriving now.) They won’t feel “heavy” and bombard us with information overload – they will earn the right to interrupt with value.
  • The user interface will look very different from existing web interfaces for some of these apps — as they won’t have things to suggest/interrupt a lot of the time, but when they do they will be very helpful. Example: It is “ok” for the user interface to say: ”Close the app, we don’t have anything for you now.”
  • Understanding context will follow simple heuristics for some services and big data processing for others. As an example, many home automation applications may only need to know that I am in my house to automate music, thermostats, etc. But more sophisticated data analysis and processing will be required for more complicated interactions/recommendations/transactions (ala Square payments).

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