“Wearable Tech:” David Walks Episode 6 with Adriana Vecchioli, Founder of GetFind.it

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David Smooke: Hello.

Adriana Vecchioli: Hi, how are you doing David?

David Smooke: Good, how are you this evening or afternoon excuse me?

Adriana Vecchioli: Very good, very good.

David Smooke: One of the few sunny days in San Francisco.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yeah, I hope you’ll enjoy this.

David Smooke: Yes. Let’s talk about wearable tech.

Adriana Vecchioli: I’ve been building an Apple Google Apps for the past five months, it’s called GetFind.It and it’s very simple. It remembers the location of the scene just by taking a picture, so you would park your car and say, “Okay Glass, remember my car.” The photo and the location is saved in the system. You can access it at any time for any kind of object.

When it comes to wearable devices, such as Google Glass or Smartwatches,  it’s very difficult to say exactly what direction they are going, because it’s not so much about the vision of the big manufacturing companies like Google, Samsung or others. It’s much more about what the user will want and I think people don’t know yet exactly what they want about it, because it’s just too new and too disruptive. I think some companies here in [inaudible 00:01:19] I think are bad with it, but also when we see about Google Glass, the different issues about privacy like the camera, the spy camera’s recording without you knowing it. Actually like as of now, it’s not possible because the battery is a big limitation, so you can’t have anything running in the background for a long time, because after 45 minutes, the devices are out of battery.

I think it would still be a while before that, but for now, it’s very short interactions like Glances. Where is the next coffee shop? You can have the information and then the device go back to sleep before the next time you’ll need it. I think it will take quite a while to see anything recording your whole life or anything.

David Smooke: I think we’re getting there, though.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yes.

David Smooke: Google Glass, the battery is a massive limitation, but if you already have the camera on your eyes seeing your point of view in the world.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yes, but you’re forgetting that the main point is the wearability of the device, so it has to be light, it has to be easy and so on. So if you put more battery…

David Smooke: It doesn’t exactly look like your designer glasses.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yeah, but if you put a bigger battery, if you need to plug it to a buttery extension or something, you’re losing a big deal of wearability of the device and it’s slowing down the adoption.

David Smooke: What about our bodies as a battery? I produce a lot of energy. Do you think I could potentially power the technology that I’m going to wear? Are people doing this?

Adriana Vecchioli: Well, the idea at first could become scary, because when you say that, I imagine plugging something in my body or having a chip in my brain, and I don’t really want that.

David Smooke: I don’t want that either.

Adriana Vecchioli: Actually it could be very an eco-friendly idea, because when we’re walking, when we’re moving around, we’re producing heat, we’re producing kinetic energy. This energy, so far, is just lost. If we could add it and put a chip in the sole of our shoes that could power some devices we’re using, that would be awesome. I’m pretty sure a company like Nike are working on that since they not only focus on sports apparel, but also hardware, they are going a lot more into the connected objects sector. Other than that, I wouldn’t want to use mic, body energy straight power device would be just a consequence of an action and doing that produce energy, and this energy being retrieved by a device or something instead of being lost.

David Smooke: The tech on Google Glass, is it building a whole new breed of developers that, just like I would be an Android or an iPhone developer, you start to become really specialized with just a Google Glass developer?

Adriana Vecchioli: It’s not so much about the development, so currently Google Glass or in some Android, but it has some limitations and some differences but it’s pretty minor. I assume that with the progress of such devices, it will converge to what it is to be an Android developer. The thing is much more about the user experience, because the user experience has nothing to compare with the smartphone that you have to take out of your pocket to access. You have a big screen, so you can display a lot of information. Also you’re bit more static, even though you’re taking your phone everywhere you go.

Here, with wearable devices, it’s a lot more about context and also the device has to guess, it has enough information about where you are, what you’re doing and so on. In order to be relevant and give another value to people, it has to guess what you need and most of the time, we are pretty predictable.

David Smooke: I don’t know if I’m predictable.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yeah, because you’re thinking maybe what you’re thinking is what you want, but on the very first level, where you want to eat, it’s pretty easy to predict. Probably around 12:00, you will start thinking about food and there is maybe 5 places where you go a lot and depending on where you actually are. It can guess what would be the best choice for you.

David Smooke: I think it’s going to be a good explosion on… I mean, it’s already happening with these localize ads, but you see the Pandora ads, they’re still not so targeted. They technically can figure out where I’m walking and they could give me this restaurant right here [inaudible 00:06:36] or whatever we are at, or Perry’s, but I still don’t get it that specific.

Adriana Vecchioli: When I see the ad on my Gmail account, I think it’s very scary because it’s exactly about the things that we’ve been talking, the things that you shouldn’t have been talking about with people. Maybe it’s just the Pandora is not using the right sources of contents about you. Maybe you still need to tell them that, because also as you see on their Facebook ads, some of them are ridiculous, but sometimes it’s pretty spot on and it’s pretty scary, because sometimes you’re like, “I did talk about it with a friend, but it did not never remember writing an inbox or email about it, how do they know?” When you reach a certain age, 80% of certain demographics will be [inaudible 00:07:39] shoes and so on, so we can guess from the demographics even for very, very broad information about you.

David Smooke: Do you find this a little creepy? Ultimately, there is the case like, “If I have to see less ads in a day and they are more relevant, my life would be better off.” It’s also, there is the case for just how much anyone, a stranger, a company can just buy or find or target me based on the 10,000, 100,000 details you can find out about me through the internet?

Adriana Vecchioli: I think advertising is annoying in all the cases, unless it’s a funny commercial.

David Smooke: That’s a good quote. That’s not an advertisement anymore. It’s a show.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yeah, I don’t like it. The thing is that about the creepiness, most people do not really get that this information was already public a lot before, what you buy, where you go and so on. The difference is before, it was a lot more difficult to regroup all the sources and it crosses information together. Actually, if you were a very creepy stocker, you could do it. People feel, I think the devices are intruding a lot more in their privacy, their private zone, but that information was just already available and not exploited yet.

David Smooke: Are you going to relay on ads to make money with your app?

Adriana Vecchioli: No, because I don’t like ads and the ads are really, really killing the whole user experience, especially on wearable devices. They are intimate because you’re wearing them all day. Bombing ads would be the best way to turn users away, unless it’s really, really good native content that’s really blending in the content that the ad is delivering. In that case, I feel it’s just not honest at all.

David Smooke: It’s a really tough trade off, though, because to turn users away also implies that you have users. If your price point is too high, you’re turning out a lot of potential users as opposite to if you’re starting with $3 or $1, you bring a lot in, you just expect that you’re going to lose a certain percentage of them. It’s a though trade off.

Adriana Vecchioli: I think monetization is about building great products that deliver a real value to people and a value they wouldn’t get elsewhere or it would be pretty complicated differently. The simple thing would be to just pay. Forget about it. It’s like how the most software works today. Before, people were very reluctant to pay on something in the internet. If it’s virtual, it doesn’t exist. People now are getting that everything you’re doing online is a service and you pay for services, so you also pay for online services.

They pay for movies. Maybe they don’t know and they don’t know, then pay one movie at a time, but they pay for a Netflix subscription. They pay for [inaudible 00:11:29] subscription also. I guess it’s not really a problem. The real problem is that they are delivering great value to the user.

David Smooke: I like that way of thinking, I agree with most of it. It’s really hard to deliver great something out of nothing that creates value. It’s a pretty exhilarating feeling.

Adriana Vecchioli: It’s all about exploring. I’m not there yet, but that’s exciting. I’m still like looking… The thing is when it comes to wearables, very few people, almost no one knows what will be an amazing value. There are things that are obvious like fitness trackers or tracking what you eat, in order to have a better health. I feel like there are thousand use cases that really change people’s life but they haven’t found out which ones yet.

David Smooke: I’m really excited about the ones that don’t have data entry, like the food ones, where you enter what you eat, I don’t even consider this like part of the same discussion. They’re all the fit fans, the fit fit, and the fit ones, and the ones that you just go about your day and it adds value to you. You’re data informed, but not data driven. I think those are the ones that excite me. The other ones that really excite me in the space are when you get the hardware and the applications down and we start to hit a point where people are designing on top of it, so if your app on your shoe is small enough that you’re just plugging it in your shoes, you have a little piece of hardware, a piece of software, and then it’s like who can make the best shoe or what the biggest brand already is that will plug in. Wearable technology, the fashion itself looks exactly like the fashion would look. It’s not like a statement to have to look like a robot.

Adriana Vecchioli: It’s up to you. Good wearable device is the one you put on and just forget about it. That’s why Google Glass it’s not working very well, because first it’s the only thing that people can see when they look at you and it just changes the way you move your head and you move your face and so on. It’s not blending yet in the people’s lives seamlessly. I think wearable device is just install it and forget about it and shake it when you want it.

David Smooke: Shake it?

Adriana Vecchioli: No, check it.

David Smooke: Check it.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yeah, check the info you want.

David Smooke: Yeah. We got a lot of construction here in Soma.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yeah. The current wearable devices, we are still in the Beta phase. The technology and the performances are getting there, but not the usability, the easy to carry around. We need something that’s waterproof because sometime it rains. It’s just stupid like that. This is the current challenge. Maybe in a few years, instead of having one phone in our pocket, we’ll have five or ten small devices with different use cases, and we won’t need to check them anymore. The information will come to you at the moment you need it and so on, because we can draw patterns out of your way of life and so on.

David Smooke: I would like my phone to be a projector, so like I’m carrying a little cube instead of this big phone. When I want a screen, it projects. I think I’m going to get it before I die.

Adriana Vecchioli: Or something that uses any flat surface as a screen, as a projector. I’ve seen some prototype of laser keyboards, so you have a small cube that with a little laser will draw keyboard on the flat surface and you type on the surface as if you were typing on a real keyboard and it records what you typed.

David Smooke: Cool, that would be great. Also at conferences, I hate having my phone or having the whole computer, and I like having the phone, but I also know my typing is a third of the speed on the phone, maybe even worse.

Adriana Vecchioli: The tablet is good for conferences.

David Smooke: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true.

Adriana Vecchioli: The thing is a phone, tablet and a laptop… You need a phone and laptop and a tablet is convenient, but everything you can do on a tablet, you can easily do it on the phone or a laptop, if not both. That’s the problem. It’s redundant to have all three devices. I think later the different devices will have more separate use case, and there would be less people over than now.

David Smooke: You see all these limitations with Google Glass. Why do you still build an app on it and rely on it?

Adriana Vecchioli: Actually now I’ve posed the whole Google [inaudible 00:17:20] about the app, because the app is built for Glass. It’s a simple app, but now I’m actually looking out to expenditures of devices and all those use cases to bring more value. Right now, it’s pretty simple. It’s just like recording the locations of places and objects with a picture to help you. I’m looking to build something that will be…

David Smooke: I think when you talked, it paused. We’re back on the air.

Adriana Vecchioli: What I’m saying is I was very curious about it, about the challenges, especially about the user experience, and I’ve done something that I’m pretty satisfied with, as of now, the way it is. I’m looking right now to how to expand the concept to more use cases, more devices, big focus on other wearable devices like the watch and so on. I’m really not focused only on Google Glass.

I keep on working on the app to improve the current performances and the user experience, but the most part of my work is actually writing the concept and the usability of the service.

David Smooke: When you make these, are you thinking first about the screen or people consume the information or you’re thinking first about how they’ll use it on the device?

Adriana Vecchioli: Sorry, how do I think about…?

David Smooke: If I’m thinking about this walking app, I think about someone putting in their headphones and listening to a podcast, I think about someone using their phone to record, but I think those things, the phone has applications for it, that doesn’t seem very difficult to build or pull into your app. The challenge then is these screens people see when they first download the app and understand what it can do and how to get the most out of it. I run into this barrier. I’m just drawing little pictures on my scratchboard of 9,60 by 4,80 or whatever two iPhones screens are.

Adriana Vecchioli: First, I’m designing the apps in a way that you would not need to actually look at the screen. You either talk to your glass or you tap on the side, and it’s so simple. The second time you’re using it, you remember the workflow because it’s just three steps. We try to make it as logical, as intuitive as possible, by interacting with the users, and what they like, and what desirable for them. Also the first time you use the app, we try to make the UI as simple as possible too and straightforward [inaudible 00:20:31] to teach you the first time. Ultimately what we like to do is something so simple. You don’t even need to be taught the first time. You just take it and use it.

David Smooke: Just an on switch.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yes. As of now, since it’s so new and so on, there’s still a lot of research to do for that.

David Smooke: How do you look at timeline and the barriers you need to hit to be successful in the long run?

Adriana Vecchioli: About Google Glass or?

David Smooke: What barriers you need to overcome and generally what would success look for you for this application?

Adriana Vecchioli: In a general timeline, I don’t really know, because I don’t have a crystal ball, unfortunately. As of now, it’s really early stage. It’s about really shaping a really good product. You can’t really predict when you have it. It’s just interactions with the current users and see if more people like it, if more people are deleting the app or not using it anymore. As of now, it’s just like going back and forth. I hope at some point, I guess I will be like, “Oh, we really have something and we should go all in that direction and feel the feature that nobody sought about the app, but at the same time, it seems so simple. It’s stupid nobody did it before. Something like that.

David Smooke: Yeah, hot feature.

Adriana Vecchioli: Yeah, exactly.

David Smooke: Cool, we’ve lopped back around to where we started. I had a lot of fun walking with you today and learning.

Adriana Vecchioli: Same as you. Same as you and have a nice time.

David Smooke: Thank you.