Future trends spotting

Lean Analytics with Alistair Croll, in Dublin April 2014 : Part 1

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I was lucky enough to get an invite to DCU School of Business for a talk.

I knew it was something to do with analytics, which I figured could only be useful as we are currently trying to work out if you can run google analytics on a wordpress site. Now that is a whole other story, with a whole load of blogs, many wordpress ones including, offering really useful information on the pro’s and cons of using wordpress.com or wordpress.org sites. I guess that’s another days blog.

Alistair said he was tired, because he had just come in on the flight from Canada. Which is of course slightly cool too, that they got him over. It seems like if you offer these type of speakers the chance to come over, they often have an Irish relative, somewhere, even if it’s only an Irish Setter.

As he began he paid a quick spin through the principles of Erik Ries and the Lean Start Up concept, I realised how closely they were related. This was going to be a talk about the data that helps to underpin the whole Lean Start Up idea. Get feedback quickly, see what the customer wants, not what you want to build.

Don’t build it, and hope (mutter repeatedly to self) “they will come”, dammit!

As Steve Blanc repeatedly says, get out of the building, talk to people, validate your idea.


[You can do a version of his course for free on udacity]

Alistair continued in the same vein, it is virtually free to test your concept now. I’m not sure if he was exaggerating,  but he said he told one company that the coders were to hold off coding for a month. Instead they were told to get out there and validate their idea first. See if anyone was actually interested in your idea.

With google now it is possible to quickly survey trends. Survey monkey is really helpful too, you can quickly develop an idea, and get 20 – 30 friends, family, whoever, to fill it in, and already, inevitably, you will get unexpected responses.

No data no learning

You can use analytics to understand how people fill in online forms. Where do they make mistakes, struggle, repeatedly go back. If it keeps happening at the same points, you have an opportunity to identify where are the bumps in your process. Which may discourage people who had been potential customers.

A lot of what Alistair covered was common sense, but it doesn’t mean that many people are actually doing it, and using this opportunity to learn and better understand what is, and is not, working for them.

This sort of easily gathered data is then invaluable for startups. He then listed all the great start ups that began making one thing and then realised they had actually solved a different problem, for a different potential customer. Successful companies then pivot, or change direction to respond to this new, interested market. While failed business keep trying to convince customers to buy a product that does not offer something they really want or need.

At this point too, I realise that people don’t want their blog posts to be too long.

So I will draw a line at this point, see what the level of interest is, digest what I learnedtoday, and then write a second post, containing more of the links to all the great resources he mentioned. It also makes sense to check out his own blog too.


To conclude part 1, it was a really interesting session and I think I still want to read the book.

Being there was a really useful insight into the importance of working out what is you want to measure, and think about what you will learn by measuring it, and what changes you will then make, as a result of analysing those results.


Why Wired Magazine, UK & US rocks : a great resource for uxd research

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download                                                                                      download (1)


Wired Magazine continues to be a great resource in future trend spotting.

I saw my first copy at the Trinity Science Gallery, in Dublin, three years ago.  As I looked at the magazine, a subscription form fell out and I was hooked. I’d like to say I bought a copy there and then, but I wouldn’t want to go to the lie detector on that one. Knowing magazines in Ireland have a massive mark up, I promptly sent the subscription form to a trusted contact in the UK (ok, ok, yes it was my mother!).

Since then I have been inspired, educated and entertained by  Wired. The kids, 11 now, and younger, also take great pleasure at alternating between the Beano and Wired, looking at pictures of robots, spaceships, nano creations and everything else visual in the magazines.

Then, only a few months ago, we went past the pile of free books in Baldoyle library, (they do giveaways). To my double take amazement, someone had donated about 60 Wired’s, running from 2013 back to around 2005. The kids were ecstatic, them honest, not me, about this.

Can we take them, can we take them?

Sure. I thought there might be some overlap with what we already have. I figured bring them home, and then bring back what we already had. They weighed a ton too, and it was pretty tricky to get them and the two year old back out to the car.

Getting home and matching  comparing to what we had, I realised we had the same month, but different covers. Weird? It then, sloooowly, dawned on me,  we had acquired a bunch of the Wired US magazines.

This was a great haul. Occasionally the odd article pops up in both,  mostly the content is unique to each version. Some of the ads for the US version are almost shocking, as you would never see them in the UK version. For example for cigarettes or Viagra!  US articles also go on for longer, but apart from that they are both very readable.

The website


is also a great resource because new and unique content also pops up there as well. So you can follow it, without it spoiling your read of the magazine when it winds it’s way here on it’s bimonthly appearance. There is also a Wired Video section too, but that’s something I haven’t had time to look at yet.

So I just wanted to give the Wired trinity a big shout, and say thanks because it has really helped in developing the ideas for this site.

Why would someone use GlassIS?

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# To make their life easier



# To help give them a more hands free experience


What would they be able to do with?

# To record attendance, test results, good behaviour, bad behaviour, to record artwork, drama, poetry, great sporting moments


Can it produce reports?

# Yes, there will be a series of pre-set verbal commands, take photo, make report, upload data to local server. It will also be possible for the user to create their own particular commands as well, to respond to their own particular needs.


What is the battery power?

# Initially one day, to come with 2 batteries, one for use, one for charging. Though ideally with kinetic motion energy capture we hope to make the battery last much longer, a week, and then ideally to the point where the body movement of the wearer is enough to keep it permanently charged.


Is it just for class room teachers?

# No we intend it to be used for a much wider range of possible teachers and instructors, including for sports, music, dance, and pretty much anything else where you need to interact with and observe your students to help them learn and improve a skill.


Where can I buy one, and how much will it cost?

# Watch this space



Alternatives to Google Glass (and watch what happens in extreme sports first)

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           VS                    Image

At this stage we have a good idea what google glass(es)[?] look like. Not all users are wild about the look.

However a number of other designers also feel there might be other, possibly better ways to develop these ideas of wearable computing services.

These are just a few images of the numerous number of alternatives developed.





It looks like, in some shape or form, eye level computing will continue to progress, despite current issues around social etiquette, public attitudes, and uncertainty about if a killer app and use has been found for them yet.

Over the next 3 to 5 years it is likely that their use will increase in niche areas. Sailors, triathletes, cyclists, marathon runners, mountain rescue service workers, and other long distance athletes for example may be good markets to target, particularly as they are often early technical adopters, with the disposable income to invest in ‘gadgets’.

Reviewing these alternatives helps enable GlassIS to develop their own vision of where the future can take us in terms of quick, easy, fun wearable solutions. To help teachers be able to focus more of their time and energy on teaching and less on administrative duties.  It could be a smart strategy to monitor what in niche and extreme sports, because these users will test the devices to the extreme and also be quick to blog and tweet their thoughts on what works and what sucks.

FAQ for GlassIS : The Questions

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Glassis Poster

Frequently Asked Questions for Glass IS that people want to know, (that we’d like to know)

How much will it cost?

Will each headset be uniquely personalised or will they be interchangeable?

Can it be hacked?

Who owns the data?

What happens if we change operating systems, can we migrate the existing data?

Suppose a parent does not wish their child’s data to be stored in this way?

Will you be recording the whole class(es)?

Who is allowed to view the data, images, videos?



Don’t be a glasshole, our bigger future dilema

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Google realise why there could be a problem with this product. However at the same time, as we have more and more means of tracking and recording where we are in the future, this could well be symptomatic of a wider problem.

Some writers have suggested that perhaps in the future, only the very rich and elite will be able to move freely in society without our actions being traced and tracked. Existing telecoms suppliers have already built the functionality into their operating systems to make it possible for mobile phone companies to know every single website we have visited, text we have written, email we have sent and received, etc etc, we kinda know this already, we just sort of chose to ignore it.

It’s highly unlikely the type of data capture happening on google glass won’t soon become ubiquitous on a range of wearable devices, some of which may well not look as attention grabbing or jarring as google glass. So the bigger challenge is going to be how we, as a society, users, and consumers deal with these developments.

As is often the case the technology runs ahead of society having a clear idea of how to deal with it. It’s inevitable there will be google glass pornography and probably even snuff videos too. The big challenge is to try and map out what we want to be acceptable, and how on earth we are going to manage this.




Research into the current feelings towards google glass as an indicator of how our product could be received

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Most of us have heard of the term “glassholes”, and if not, you’d be guessing that it might not be too complimentary.



As the present moves into the future google have been piloting their wearable computer glasses.

Launched in 2012, they remain in the beta phase, with early adopter evangelists trying them out.

A number of these, non google staff, but keen tech fans, have been blogging about their experiences.



Robert Scoble is one of these early adopters. His article is really useful for our research into developing our ideas for this task, because he is speaking from the point of view of someone who was keen to try out the product, but can see why other people are weary of what he may or may not be recording when he is talking with them.

He was also critical of the fact that Larry Page, CEO of google was not wearing them, which did not seem like a glowing endorsement of the product, if the belief is that they will eventually become ubiquitous.



It is great that there is a large amount of research out there, because it helps us as a team to discuss, debate and develop our ideas about how and why a product might be used in the near to further future. We will continue to research and develop our product, for ideas beyond the current state of slightly awkward looking and uncomfortable to wear glasses.

We believe it is possible to have something much less obtrusive, less glitchy, and with a wider range of functionality. At the same time it is going to be necessary to develop the product to allay people’s privacy concerns about how it is used, and where the data might end up.

It’s an exciting area, but one that has to be moved into cautiously, and with as many possible, positive and negative scenarios thought through.