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There’s always something to howl about

Product idea: Sarah, Heidi’s helper in the real world.

The big buzz in the mobile computing biz is augmented reality, your phone or tablet takes in a scene and then echoes back to you what it can infer from an image and its GPS coordinates, compass direction, etc. This may be cool, or it may be cool like a QR-code, an idea whose time will never come.

Augmented reality will be that much cooler when it’s like Arnold-the-Terminator’s eyes, but that illustrates the key defects of the idea, as it is currently implemented:

Augmented reality is not done continuously but only on demand, and only in static and affected ways.

And, in consequence, it’s not doing anything terribly useful, except possibly in vertical market applications.

But reflect that an iPad can run continuously for 10 hours without recharging. Next year’s models may double that number. Soon you will get reminders to plug in, or your devices will find ways to provide for themselves while you’re asleep.

So instead of a truly amazing augmented reality presentation on the Black Hills of Dakota, how about a piece of software that watches you and your life all the time, and augments your activities however it can.

This harkens back to an idea I’ve brought up before, a hypothetical self-maintaining CRM called Heidi:

An email comes in over the transom. The spambot says it’s not spam and the sender is not already in your CRM database, so let’s extract as much information as we can from the email. With a name and an email address we can probably get the sender’s full contact information, and possibly a whole lot more.

Make that first contact a phone call instead. Caller ID is lame, but Google is not. From the phone number, can you get back to a name? A location? From those, can we effect the same kind of searches discussed above?

There’s more: Once your CRM knows a name, it should be watching for any changes in publicly-available databases that should be reflected in your private CRM database. That is to say, your CRM should be maintaining itself.

Sarah’s going to monitor every phone call, of course. She or Heidi should be doing all the cloud-mining discussed above, but Sarah should also be listening for names, appointments, addresses, contact information, etc.

Now that Sarah is listening in on your phone calls, why shouldn’t she listen in on — or even save audio or video of — every person you come into contact with? It’s CYOA for honest folks, of course, but Sarah should be augmenting your life in real time every which way she can. Not as Siri-like requests, but simply doing all that database mining all the time. You should not be able to have a factual question raised in your dealings with other people that Sarah has not already sought to answer, as soon as the question comes up. If she can’t answer the question herself, she can at least build smart links — into the MLS, Realtors? — to make your work easier.

I actually thought about this while watching television. Cathleen had a question about a commercial that had just ended. I hadn’t watched it, but Sarah could easily have monitored the commercial, identified the product, found the best on-line and brick ‘n’ mortar deals, etc. Mostly you would never need this information, but you would always have it when you did.

You live your live in a vortex of factual data. A piece of software like Sarah should be watching all of it and making sense of everything she can. Even if you ignore 95% of what she comes up with, she will significantly augment your life with the other five percent.

 
Our story so far: Lately, I have been tap-dancing around an idea for a new kind of computer-user operating paradigm. I haven’t explicated the central thesis yet, but it should be easy enough to infer from the essays I’ve written so far:

Related posts:
  • Product (category) idea: Antoinette the anticipator.
  • Adam Brickley – Do you know him? You should.
  • Paging Sarah: “If there is a lesson in this story, it is to make sure your cell phone is off when attending a concert.”

  • 7 comments

    7 Comments so far

    1. [...] BLOODHOUNDBLOG UNCHAINED There’s always something to howl about « Product idea: Sarah, Heidi’s helper in the real world. [...]

    2. Thomas A B Johnson January 4th, 2012 8:06 am

      Isn’t Sarah’s real name Siri? The interface with an onboard CRM piece would actually be worth paying a subscription for. Rapportive has something that scans an email address for commonality in the social media platforms in the sidebar of my gmail. You get an email over the transom and there is the person’s linked in/facebook profile thumbnail off to the right. It helps for that first face to face meeting.

    3. [...] yeah! Those are the kinds of jobs I want from Sarah, your software secretary, but I can show you a very cool Constance the Connector connection here, as [...]

    4. [...] Paging Sarah: “If there is a lesson in this story, it is to make sure your cell phone is off when attending a concert.” By: Greg Swann, Phoenix Real Estate, Post Archive, RSS Feed Posted: Thursday, January 12th, 2012, 11:45 am MST Category: Casual Friday,Flourishing,Group Therapy,Innovation,Technology Suppressing your phone’s ringer at the symphony is a Sarah job. [...]

    5. [...] any other means devised so far. With the right hardware and software, your phone, together with Sarah and Constance, can manage all of your financial transactions with perfect security and impenetrable [...]

    6. [...] much is what I’m looking for when I talk about Sarah, your software secretary. Practically speaking, I’m talking about a whole new style of AI. Not “expert” [...]

    7. [...] much is what I’m looking for when I talk about Sarah, your software secretary. Practically speaking, I’m talking about a whole new style of AI. Not “expert” [...]