• By Sin Mei C
  • February 14, 2014

This Week in Context – 20140214

The world celebrates Valentine’s Day today, and to help those who haven’t found that loved one to celebrate with yet, Wired teamed up with OKcupid and Match data scientists to reveal some useable dating profile advice and insights: focus your love-finding efforts on Sundays, avoid selfies if you’re a guy, start surfing, and more. (I dare to assume that any hobby that makes guys think of sporty girls in bikinis would get you success equal to surfing.)

At the same time, researchers are working on increasing the chance these services will be able to ‘recommend’ you your soulmate by introducing collaborative filtering, a recommendation system online retailers such as Netflix and Amazon use.  AFP reports on a study that managed to increase the chances to get a positive response by 40%, by focussing not solely on the interests, aspirations and hobbies you and your possible partner have in common, but also checking what traits – and attractiveness –  you and your ‘competition’ share.  ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought,’ then becomes ‘People who want to date Samantha are also considering.’

Enough Loving, on to this week’s most interesting news on Mood Detection, Gaming the Quantified Self and two great new Wearables.

As ‘right message, right time, right moment’ becomes increasingly important for service providers, publishes and advertisers, Apple intends to determine your mood based on the content you consume on your devices.  According to The Register, the Cupertino company is seeking a patent on something it calls “Inferring user mood based on user and group characteristic data” that its application says would figure out how you are feeling and “… then deliver content that is selected, at least in part, based on the inferred mood.” Other ways to infer mood currently being researched are smartphone routine, sentiment analysis and even eye-tracking in Glass.

Razer announced Tuesday that more than 10,000 developers signed up to create apps for the Nabu wrist-worn activity tracker. What I particularly like about the Nabu device, is that it is more than an activity tracker. Razor doesn’t solely plan help you achieve your physical fitness goals, but also wants to help you with your social life, and manage interruptions for you.  I personally worry more about time management, spending more moments with friends and my current in-game rankings than about my physical fitness. So I believe that if you combine these social & time optimisations with neat ideas such as the “letting players level up virtual characters if they move around while wearing a fitness band” Rex Crowle  pitched at DICE2014, Nabu is definitely ready to conquer the market segment I’m in. And, most importantly, to keep us interested and engaged in their device and derivative products and services.

In ‘You don’t want your privacy: Disney and the meat space data race‘ GigaOm’s Chief Data Scientist John Foreman has a rather critical look at Disney’s MagicBand, and the use of consumer’s personal data by companies in general.  I believe that in the next few years, people will reclaim their data, or at least demand more value in return.  The MagicBand’s data will hopefully improve customer experience equally to the increase of Disney’s profit margins. Else, people will just move to the theme park competition? (Yet Personalised gambling, as described here, does get me worried.)

More positive aspects of ‘data surveillance’ and analysis are touched upon in Jennifer Whitson’s ‘Gaming the Quantified Self‘ paper. Whitson offers a new angle on activity trackers (‘self-surveillance and the gamified body’), and calls for more research into transparency concerning the algorithms that govern ‘play’: “We cannot see why and how and when some of our actions are deemed successful and rewarded versus others that are not. We want to assume that these value judgements are achieved in a fair and impartial manner, but this is not always the case. There is no space in these systems for the mutual negotiation and agreement upon the rules.” Interesting, as the same question applies to habit profiling and the insights derived from it – to which degree people should – want to – know about the algorithms behind the conclusions.

Quantified Self is self-tracking and analysis enhanced by technology to capture our behaviour automatically. Technology and hardware tools such as Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Withings, Moves, Rescue Time, .. .

Rob Williams captured many of them in his A Day in The Life (Quantified Self) overview video.

Using in-ear headphones? Get ready to swap them out for The Dash once they hit the market. And you’ll probably throw out a bunch of your other wearables as well, because these new smart wireless headphones promise to build a whole lot of extra functionality into them. Headphones, microphone, heart rate monitor, fitness tracker, and more in one 4GB package with no wire in sight puts them right on my to-have list. Only downside? It might still take a while for them to be released as they just launched their kickstarter campaign. Fortunately, that one’s off to a real nice start.

The EU announced that the basic set of connected car standards, needed to make sure that vehicles made by different manufacturers can communicate with each other, has been completed. Connected cars, able to communicate with each other and with road infrastructures, are expected to appear on European roads in 2015. Do you have question such as ‘Is there an extension pack to make my Polo Bluemotion compatible?’ and ‘What are the benefits of connected cars?’ Answers to these can be found in the Connected Cars Q&A.

I’ll leave you with this thought-evoking conversation with Kevin Kelly on ‘The Technium’ technology society.  That, and as it is Valentine’s Day, know that we adore you for sharing our vision of a technology and data fuelled smarter future. 

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