This Week in Context (20140117)

By January 17, 2014 Week in Context No Comments

As Filip explains in our 2014 Road & Resolutions post, “in 2013, the context industry was born. In 2014, context-rich solutions will become indispensable”.  

Here’s three examples of other parties who definitely get ‘context’ – Beats Music, Google (duh), and GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel. 

What’s the “killer app” for wearables? Think context.

Kevin Tofel writes on GigaOm that for the wearables market to explode beyond predictions, more and more capabilities and sensors aren’t enough. The market also needs “a killer app to separate signal from noise in personal, meaningful ways.”

Context should be put to good use, not only as to serve you better with ‘anticipated’ information, but also to make sure this information ends up on the right screen, exactly when it’s needed. We couldn’t agree more!

How context influences the Beats Music Playlists

Beats Music, which launches in the US next week, says what differs their offering from that of competitors Spotify, Deezer and Pandora is that they combine the emotion only a human created playlist can give you with the best personalisation technology can deliver.  Or put more shortly, the right song at the right time.

But we have these powerful computers in our pocket and computers can learn a lot from what we listen to when. My phone knows when I’m driving. It knows I’m at the gym. It knows I generally listen to hip hop and metal while running and like a wide range of mellower music just before bed. – Ian C. Rogers, on the Beats blog

‘Just for You’, means that at least 4 times a day, a user will receive a personalised selection of albums and playlists based on music preferences, time of day, activity, and additional cultural and contextual clues. Additionally, the Right Now feature will generate an ad hoc playlist compiled from users’ answers to four specific questions about their location, their activity, their surroundings, and their musical preference at that moment.

The NY Times gave the Beats mobile app & “right now” a try: “I’m at the beach & feel like pre-partying with my friends to dance-pop, for example, yields the Chemical Brothers, Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson. Not bad.”

With the answers written out like that, Beats’ system of micro categories feels similar to the altgenres apparatus Netflix builds its ‘Scary Cult Mad-Scientist Movies from the 1970s’ movie recommendations upon.  This makes me wonder if what’s appropriate for ‘at the beach’ is determined by humans, or listening behaviour data & algorithms.

This is definitely music streaming recommendations heading in the right direction. “I’m alone in the car and feel like traffic is going nowhere,” is something that can easily be deduced so you don’t need to take your hands of the wheel or eyes of the road. Your headphones could communicate if they are plugged in at home or at work. Your activities could come from Runkeeper, Foursquare place category, your eReader, .. . And let’s not forget these automagic playlists could also take the weather and future events into account. An example from our white paper Putting Music in Context is that your playlist would ‘prep’ you for those music shows you’re planning to attend the next few weeks.

Google acquires Nest

Wouldn’t it be lovely if your thermostat could anticipate you being home at 7:32pm, so it can make sure it’s a lovely 22°C? Turn the heating off when it knows you’re not at home, and overwrite its default programme when this is needed according to your schedule? Soon, it will probably be able to do this. At least, I’m assuming, if you use Google Calendar, and own a Nest device.

Google swallowing up Nest is tough luck for all other ‘smart thermostats’ out there, as they won’t have such wealth of information available to them. Unless, they plug into a platform that turns the wealth of personal data that is context into triggers that are easily digestible to them.

Funny thing, we’re building just that.. . 😉

Also this week..

If you want to send me a Moto X or Mother, please mail ann@sentiance.com to enquire about the snail-mail address. If you want tip me on Context related news I should definitely include in next week’s round-up, the same address works just as well. As does letting us know on Google Plus, through the comments below. 😉

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