Quixey Teams Up With DuckDuckGo

March 14th, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in Quixey News - (0 Comments)

Today we’re proud to announce our partnership with DuckDuckGo! We’re now powering app search for the alternative search engine that brings privacy, less spam, and immediate solutions to its users via the “instant answers” box at the top of its SERP.

Monthly, DuckDuckGo has been seeing over 45 million users, and more keep switching over as they realize the value of a search engine that doesn’t track their every move. The company stresses a straightforward approach to search, emphasizing privacy and simplifying the results page. Useless clutter is removed from the results page, and their “!bang” feature allows users to search thousands of sites directly through the DuckDuckGo search bar. For example, if you need Python tips, simply enter “!python” after your query to search Python documentation.

We wanted to work with DuckDuckGo because we feel the same way about the technology we’ve built — it shouldn’t throw unnecessary content your way. We’re about bringing relevant app results to users right when they search, regardless of whether they know what they’re looking for. So a search engine that avoids filter bubbles is appealing to us, because relevant doesn’t mean curated. It just means helping the user find what they’re looking for on their own.

On the DuckDuckGo SERP, all app-specific searches will now yield app results powered by Quixey in the instant answers box above regular results, such as “best iphone games for kids” and “app for finding hiking trails.” Because DuckDuckGo stresses finding answers to queries with as few clicks as possible, Quixey’s integration fits right into their simple interface. When apps powered by Quixey appear in the instant answers box, users simply click on an app to view a quick snippet about it and a direct link to download.

As we stressed in our partnership announcement with Ask.com, the web is currently transforming from static sites to apps. An assortment of blue links simply isn’t enough when searching the web today. DuckDuckGo understands the importance of getting a relevant answer to the user as quickly as possible, and this isn’t always just an article with written information. Users are often searching for function and action — a way to help them get tasks done.

That’s why we were excited at the prospect of working with DuckDuckGo — their format allows us to serve apps to more users quickly, easily, and clutter-free.

For a detailed video presentation of the concepts in this post, see our Functional Web tech talk.

If you want to know the future of apps and the web, don’t think about short-term trends.

  • Don’t think about which new HTML5 APIs are coming.
  • Don’t think about which devices have which market share.
  • Don’t think about whether mobile websites or mobile apps are getting more eyeballs.

Just think about one thing: the URL.

The URL has been around since 1994, but it’s evolved a lot in 20 years. And the future of apps and the web has everything to do with the URL’s evolution.

 

Resource Locators

URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator”. A resource locator tells you where an HTML file lives within a web server’s directory tree. For example, a website called Shakespeare Online lets anyone read the full text of Shakespeare’s Hamlet by accessing the URL shakespeare-online.com/plays/hamlet.html. That URL works because it locates a resource – a file called hamlet.html which lives in a directory called plays on the Shakespeare Online web server.

Function Identifiers

In the last decade, the web has grown to support new functions that aren’t powered by HTML resources – networking with friends, booking flights, gaming, watching videos, using maps, etc. These new functions aren’t powered by your grandfather’s HTML files. They don’t have “resources” to be “located” in the traditional sence.

For example, when you access www.facebook.com/home.php, Facebook doesn’t send you a static HTML file called home.php. Instead, Facebook dynamically pieces together your friends’ status updates and streams them to your browser in realtime.

When you access www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMH0bHeiRNg&t=50s, it plays the video “Evolution of Dance” starting at 50s. The “t=50s” is converted to a command that tells YouTube’s video player to skip to timecode 0:50 in the video.

When you access maps.google.com/maps?ll=21.28,-157.83, it shows a map centered around Waikiki beach, whose geocoordinates are 21.28°N, 157.83°W (the ll in the URL stands for “latitude & longitude”).

Today, the URL isn’t just a resource locator. In fact, it’s rarely used for accessing files like hamlet.html anymore. Instead, today the URL is a gateway to functions like “read my Facebook news feed”, “play ‘Evolution of Dance’ at timecode 0:50″ and “show a map centered around Waikiki beach”. Today, the URL is a function identifier.

 

The Functional Web

Back when it was a resource locator, the URL was attached to one specific technology – the HTML file. But in the last decade, the URL has been detaching itself from technology and attaching itself to functions. That’s how the URL can talk about Flash-powered video player timecodes and JavaScript-powered map coordinates. By detaching itself from technology, it’s not limiting itself to HTML-file-powered Shakespeare plays.

As the URL evolves from a resource locator to a function identifier, the web itself is also detaching from its implementation technologies. Technologies like HTML, JavaScript and Flash are getting abstracted into a single web of URL-accessible functions – the Functional Web.

When you access a URL on the Functional Web, you get a function like “read Hamlet”, “play ‘Evolution of Dance’ at timecode 0:50″ and “show a map centered around Waikiki beach” – and you get it with an unlimited number of technologies. You might get your function by locating an HTML file, you might get it by running JavaScript or Flash… you might even get it by using a native app.

 

Apps

Today we have the web, and we have apps. They seem like two separate silos, each with separate functions. Why is that?

Apps are software products, which makes them technologically different from web servers. Apps don’t have HTML resources that old-fashioned URLs can locate. This technological difference is why apps haven’t traditionally been considered a part of the web.

The Functional Web offers a technology-independent view of URL-accessible functions. On the Functional Web, URLs can be accessed either by downloading a file from Shakespeare Online’s web server, or by issuing a seek command to YouTube’s video player, or by launching a native app into a particular state.

Apps fit naturally into the Functional Web. Consider the function “search Yelp for karaoke”. Yelp’s website already has a function-identifying URL for it: www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=karaoke

Now consider Yelp’s iPhone app – one of Yelp’s many device-specific native app editions. It clearly gets you the same function the Yelp website does, namely “search Yelp for karaoke”.

 

This diagram visualizes how both editions of Yelp can access the same point on the Functional Web, by getting you the same “search Yelp for karaoke” function.

The only missing piece is to make the function URL-accessible to the Yelp app, the way it’s URL accessible to the Yelp website.

Apps like Yelp provide many of the same functions as their web counterparts, but don’t currently support the ability to access the URLs for those functions. It’s time for apps to fully join the Functional Web by making their URL-identified functions URL-accessible.

 

The Web’s Natural Evolution

Why did we ever separate apps from the web? How did we overlook the idea that URLs could be used to access functions of apps?

Our old-fashioned technology-centric view of URLs is to blame. We assumed that if apps weren’t like web servers – if apps didn’t have HTML resources to be located – then apps must not have functions worth identifying and accessing with URLs.

We didn’t notice that the transition to URLs as function identifiers was already happening. We ignored the fact that we already use URLs to access functions on social networking sites, video sites, mapping sites and other dynamic sites.

But native apps always belonged on the web, together with JavaScript apps and Flash apps. JavaScript and Flash apps always existed on the web – there was never a JavaScript/web dichotomy or a Flash/web dichotomy. Similarly, native apps should have always existed on the web, and there never should have been a native/web dichotomy.

The URL is our key to understanding the convergent future of apps and the web – we just have to understand its evolution from resource locator to function identifier. Then we can understand the decades-long trend toward the new web that brings URL accessibility to website-supported functions, app-supported functions, and all other technology-supported functions – the Functional Web.

CTO Liron Shapira gave this tech talk about the Functional Web at Box headquarters in Los Altos on Feb 27, 2013.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW525XaMV8A[/youtube]

The Functional Web is also explained in this blog post.

As Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona winds down to a close today, let’s take a look at some highlights of the event. Our BD team has been over there taking in all that the world’s biggest mobile trade show has to offer, and what an event it’s been.

Phablet Mania Continues

At this year’s MWC, second-tier manufacturers proved that the phablet phad is not yet done. Huawei’s Ascend Mate was the clear winner in size, boasting a six-inch screen, while ZTE and LG weren’t far behind with 5.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens on the new Grand Memo and Optimus Pro, respectively. This trend comes just as tablets are shrinking as well—Samsung also revealed its new Galaxy Note 8, which has an eight-inch screen to compete head to head with the iPad Mini. As phones grow, tablets shrink, and phablets continue to stick around, soon there really will be a wireless device for every size hand(s).

Firefox OS

Firefox debuted its new mobile OS at MWC this week, stating the initial goal is to power mobile phones in the developing world at no cost to manufacturers. At first glance, the web-based OS has proved to be rough around the edges, but it seems to be gaining acceptance from carriers Telefónica and Deutsche Telekom, and manufacturers such as LG, ZTE, and Huawei. Here Firefox is attempting to make the web a standard for mobile app development, potentially stacking up against free standing operating systems such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android down the road. Brendan Eich, CTO of Mozilla, even said the company’s goal is to “tear down the walls between apps and the web.”

GSMA Connected City

This year, the organizers of MWC put together an entire city street exhibit to demonstrate emerging technologies that will enhance our every day lives in the home, car, town, and beyond. Among the showcased products were AT&T’s Connected Home, Deutsche Telekom’s connected mobile services (public transport, energy, security, and more), and GSMA’s Aston Martin One-77 road bike with speed, atmospheric pressure, and power sensors connected to its on-board computer. One of the first exhibits of its kind, The Connected City is a great peek into how intelligent wireless connections are driving economic growth, product innovation, and more convenient lifestyles in an ever-evolving world.

With an estimated attendance of 72,000 and over 1,700 exhibitors, the above highlights really only scratch the surface of what Mobile World Congress brought to the table this year. Moving forward, we’ll be monitoring emerging stories from the aftermath of the event—if you attended and want to share something amazing that you saw, send it to us at press@quixey.com. We’d love to hear about it!

The Quixey Tweet Awards Are Back!

February 14th, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in Tweet Awards - (0 Comments)

Last year, we started the Quixey tweet awards to show our appreciation for the partners, friends, and fans of Quixey who supported us and spread the word about our app search technology throughout Twitter. As it’s Valentine’s Day, we can’t think of a better time to bring them back. Thanks for showing us the love, now it’s time to give it back:

The Helping a Friend Award:

The International Love Award:

The “I Can’t Believe it” Award:

The Platform-Specific Award:

The “Legendary” Award:

The Blogged-About Award:

The New Friends Award:

The Classic Tweet-Button Award:

We love all the support and appreciation sent our way via Twitter, and can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on with major upcoming announcements this year! Stay tuned and keep the conversation going!

Apps That Clear Barriers

February 7th, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in Favorite Apps - (0 Comments)

There will always be distractions and barriers that get in the way of what we want in life. Whether it’s something as complex as finding a cheap apartment in San Francisco, or as simple as a weak Internet connection preventing you from a quick game download, there’s plenty of friction around to slow us from getting to where we want to be.

Luckily, for some of the more minor annoyances in life, apps have popped up to save the day. Here are a few simple, yet extremely helpful apps to help make your life just a bit easier.

FreeDictate

Ever had trouble getting your thoughts onto paper and wished there was an app that could do it for you? Well, such an app exists—if you can think out loud. FreeDictate can save your voice in an audio file and transcribe its contents into text using the most advanced speech-to-text software from Nuance (which powers Siri). The app then emails your transcribed thoughts to you automatically, and can also track where you recorded your thoughts, using GPS to show you the location on Google Maps.

PaperKarma

If paper mail doesn’t bother you enough on its own thanks to the rise of email and other online communication methods, paper junk mail surely does. Enter PaperKarma, the app that gets rid of your junk mail for you. Simply take a picture of the mail/magazine/coupon book you’re sick of seeing stuffed in your mailbox, and the app will remove you from the mailing list. PaperKarma has built a massive database of company information and submits a request on your behalf after it recognizes where the publication came from.

Scalado Remove

If you’ve ever tried to take a picture of someone in a crowded area (and you have if you’ve ever been a tourist), this app is just for you. Scalado Remove allows you to take a picture and delete any unwanted strangers in the background of the picture. After taking a picture, the app recognizes which objects in the scene are people, and allows you to remove them one by one, keeping the space behind them completely intact. Say goodbye to photobombers.

“Don’t let anything stand in your way” is the Scalado Remove tagline. With it and the above apps, just a bit of the obstruction in your daily life can be cleared—which can sometimes make all the difference.

The Digital World Takes Over

January 31st, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in Vision - (0 Comments)

These days, we live in a digital age—you’ve probably noticed.

What many are unaware of, however, is just how significantly technology has permeated our everyday lives. Face-to-face interactions now take place less and less, replaced by virtual interactions via desktop computers and mobile devices. These are technically human interactions—but only up to a certain point.

While none of this may come a surprise, taking a look at specific data sheds light on how these trends have been developing and where they might lead us. TIME and Qualcomm recently conducted a study on attitudes and mass mobility, the TIME Mobility Poll, which surveyed 5,000 people in eight different countries. Regarding the workplace, they found that on average, 12% of people said they have fewer personal relationships with clients and/or co-workers as a result of wireless technology. If you’re a member of the workforce, consider this. How often on a daily basis are you on the computer or phone? How often do you speak to co-workers face-to-face? Most likely, the answers are nearly all day vs. intermittently. Similarly, the study found that 26% of people feel guilty for not responding promptly to work-related messages outside of normal work hours. Here virtual interactions have not only replaced the physical interactions, but in a way, also generated legitimate and somewhat virtual emotions. Outside of the workplace, the TIME Mobility Poll shows that over half of people almost always use their mobile devices during other activities such as attending a party, eating, and watching TV. Our physical lives are enhanced from instant connectivity to the virtual world, and this trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down—“filler” time such as waiting in line, pumping gas, and taking public transportation is now dedicated to staring at one’s phone. According to Flurry, of the apps we spend time using, over 79% are attributed to Games, Entertainment, and Social Networking. Looking at the physical scenery around us and having a full conversation is no longer adequate—our virtual lives have become more interesting. The interactions taking place in the virtual world are increasingly falling under our control as well. CNN recently found that Americans age 18-29 send an average of almost 88 texts per day. TIME’s Mobility Poll similarly discovered that 22% of respondents actually screen nearly all their calls so they can just reply by text or email—mediums that let a person dictate exactly what they want to say, when they want to say it. Following this tendency, the randomness and uncertainty of regular interactions seems to be fading.

What do these trends mean, though? Are we in the beginnings of a transition into a fully virtual world? Will traditionally physical interactions cease to exist? Moving forward, mobile devices and the “Internet of things” (smart capabilities infused into more and more ordinary objects) will continue to alter the way we live our day-to-day lives. How our perception changes as a result of this, with respect to virtual and human interactions, remains to be seen.

Last August, Facebook doubled their iOS app’s performance by using native code instead of HTML5. It was a big deal, at least according to Mark Zuckerberg. In September, Zuckerberg said betting on HTML5 was Facebook’s biggest mistake with mobile.

HTML5 web apps have a history of inferior performance compared to native. Slow JavaScript execution has been a problem since the dawn of web apps. And on any smartphone today, you know that if you see a jerky UI effect, it’s probably rendering with HTML5 and JavaScript.

The good news is that HTML5 performance is relentlessly improving. New browser versions pack performance features like faster JavaScript interpreters and hardware acceleration. And today, web apps rival performance of native and desktop applications, at least according to Google’s HTML5 Rocks advocacy site.

Maybe the story ends with HTML5 performance catching up to native apps and staying neck and neck. But you know what else might happen? HTML5 might pull ahead. In the long term, we think HTML5 apps will be faster than native apps.

Resource Caching

The web has an amazing infrastructure for reusing parts of an app, as long as the parts you want to reuse are “resources”, meaning they have their own URLs. It’s perfect for many applications, such as cat pics:

The image above was served from http://www.lolcats.com/images/u/07/22/lolcatsdotcomkzi5b2ktz93zav8f.jpg. Since the HTML on this page told your browser to download and display that resource, the image is now in your browser’s cache. Any time you go to a web page that contains an HTML tag like this:

<img src="http://www.lolcats.com/images/u/07/22/lolcatsdotcomkzi5b2ktz93zav8f.jpg">

The lolcat image will display instantly with zero download lag. That’s the beauty of resource caching.

Unfortunately, resource caching doesn’t work too well for web apps today. Web apps typically send code to your browser in the form of a few JavaScript resources (a.k.a. files). JavaScript files aren’t as similar to cat pics as you might think – there’s usually no other app that wants to reuse them. The main exception is popular JavaScript libraries, which make great resources because they get reused a lot. In fact, your browser probably has most of the Google Hosted Libraries in its cache right now.

If you factor an app (native or web) into a hierarchy of UI components, you can see that the same components get written over and over again in varying forms. Every good developer knows reusing code is better than unwittingly rewriting it, but it’s easier said than done.

We think the web will evolve to make it easier to factor web apps into components. W3C’s web components initiative is a step in the right direction. And we’ve previously written about how web components should be treated as resources on the web. When the web finally gets a robust solution for component reusability, resource caching will give web app performance a boost over native apps.

Incremental Downloading

The world’s snappiest native app still makes you wait twenty seconds the first time you want to use it. That’s about how long it  takes to download and install it.

On the other hand, if you get a link to a web app you’ve never used before, it typically takes only about a second to start using it. That’s because a properly engineered web app only downloads and runs a little bit of code on your machine at a time, just what it needs to render its current screenful of content.

Incremental downloading is a big advantage for web apps in theory, but it’s not so simple in practice. Remember what it feels like to click around a typical web app today – chunks of UI blinking in and out as data gets refreshed from the server. The problem is that web developers are being forced to roll their own custom solutions for graceful incremental downloading, and it’s hard to get that right. So you rarely get the same seamless state transitions in an incrementally-downloading web app that you’d get from a fully-downloaded native app.

That said, we’re willing to bet that the web will eventually make seamless incremental downloading the norm. The implementation details will all be taken care of by web browsers, and abstracted away from developers. In particular, if our components-as-resources idea plays out on the web, then browsers will be able to automate incremental downloading using an approach similar to link prefetching.

Embedded Native Code

Today, native apps can run fast native code that browsers can’t. But next-generation web browsers are chipping away at that advantage. It’s a safe bet that browsers will eventually let web apps run low-level native code alongside high-level JavaScript.

Google is leading the way with its Native Client for Chrome. In fact, we already mentioned Native Client when we included “reverse hybrid apps” in our Native-to-Web App Spectrum.

Optimizing Compilers

When you develop apps, sometimes you have to make tradeoffs. When Facebook rewrote their iPhone app with more native code, they traded off development time and code reusability for performance.

But sometimes you don’t have to make tradeoffs. Sometimes you can have it all. If you switch from writing assembly to writing C, you win better elegance, you win better performance, and you lose nothing. Because it turns out C compilers are better than humans at optimizing assembly code, so C code effectively runs faster than assembly.

As for the web, we think the rapidly-evolving infrastructure for downloading and executing HTML5 will do for web apps what optimizing compilers did for C.

The New Norm

Last month, HTML5 app platform maker Sencha shocked everyone by releasing Fastbook – an HTML5 clone of Facebook’s native iOS app which is noticeably faster despite using zero native code.

Today, Fastbook’s speed is an impressive achievement. But pretty soon, we bet optimal performance will be the norm for HTML5.

How to Court Mobile Gamers

January 24th, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in App Trends - (0 Comments)

How is this game so good at killing my productivity?

Many know the feeling. Angry Birds. Fruit Ninja. Tiny Wings. Draw Something. Words With Friends. Temple Run. Temple Run 2. The list goes on. What starts as a harmless romance turns into quiet determination, then blatant obsession, and most inevitably, a messy break up.

                                                     

Mobile game addiction has always been somewhat of an enigma from a consumer standpoint. When it comes to developers, however, a proven method for success has started to emerge. According to a study by Flurry, the most successful companies in the new mobile economy very closely monitor consumer behavior differences by game genre, enabling them to make informed decisions when it comes to developing apps with high retention rates and solid monetization strategies.

Based on the x-axis (90 day retention) and y-axis (Frequency of use per week), landing in quadrant I is the goal of all mobile game developers. This symbolizes games that build a loyal following through social means (Words With Friends – 15.1 Million monthly avg. users), or catch fire on their own and succeed monetarily through the ever-popular freemium model (Temple Run 2 – 20 Million downloads in four days). Let’s be real—you’ve at least been tempted to buy more gems after falling off the edge in TR2. Don’t worry, we won’t judge if you did.

Quadrants II-IV are the genres that either fail to maintain longevity with users, don’t engage users enough short-term, or both. Strategy games often capture a fan base well, but for only a short time—i.e. Letterpress. It’s fun, but the charm wears off quickly. Quadrant IV represents genres that are the opposite—poker games, Solitaire, and “endless” games like Drop7 (think Tetris with numbers)—which don’t have a lot of depth, but users return to over a long period of time. Finally, Quadrant III represents genres of games that along with a low frequency of use, don’t present as many opportunities for monetizing the user because the content and game mechanics can be more involved (i.e. “skill” games like The Walking Dead).

Taking this data into account, it would seem that the best practice is to abandon genres such as action, card battle, and casino, and focus on implementing a social element into whatever idea strikes one’s fancy. This is not necessarily the best course of action to take — what it really comes down to is leveraging this information about genres and applying it to a few key golden rules when getting down to the dirty work:

  1. User experience is crucial: Mobile game developers (MGDs) that ignore the in-app experience ignore both their potential user base and the prospect of gathering revenue. If users aren’t attracted to the experience of using your app, they’ll spend less time in it. This hurts retention rates, which in turn makes it difficult to display advertising to users or engage them with in-app purchases.
  2. Deliver relevant advertising in a nonintrusive way: If you’re relying on ads to generate revenue, know your user base so you can deliver them ads that won’t detract them from wanting to spend time within the app. Don’t frustrate them by showing ads at the height of the gaming experience.
  3. Keep them coming back: Regardless of the genre you choose, your game will benefit from rewarding users who come back. Whether that’s the “just one more level to see some cool stuff” effect, or the fact that all their friends are playing (Fear of Missing Out, a.k.a. FOMO, is a real thing), you need to instill some kind of longevity into your game.

So if you’re a developer, it’s valuable to take note of these points if you’re taking a swing at trying to create the next big game. As the mobile industry continues to expand, there’s bound to be a great deal of jostling amongst people like you trying to land a slice of the pie. If you’re a player, it’s important to realize that no matter how sick you’re bound to get of said next big game, there will always be another one ready to draw you back into a tumultuous relationship. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Apps are the Sixth Sense

January 17th, 2013 | Posted by Liron Shapira in App Trends - (0 Comments)

This post was written by Liron Shapira, CTO.

The Quixey team was at CES 2013 last week, and this year it wasn’t just about the meetings – I actually found some time to visit the show and take in the booths.

The trend that struck me is that apps are becoming the sixth sense. Here are five companies at CES 2013 which are augmenting our natural five senses.

Lumoback

As you’re sitting and reading this, can you feel your spine? Do you know if it’s at the right angle? Because that’s what a LUMOback device can sense for you.

I talked with Charles Wang, MD, co-founder of LUMOback, at their CES booth. Charles told me that people are often surprised with what LUMOback senses:

It’s hard to be aware of your posture and actually sense it. When people look at the LUMOback avatar and notice that it’s green, most of the time they would have thought they were sitting really far forward. But the reality is that they’re sitting up straight.

By the way, I noticed Charles’ own back posture looked really confident and upright.

Withings

I bet you’re still using a low-tech solution for measuring your weight and heart rate. Withings makes an app that displays data from their proprietary health-sensing devices. Their high-end offering is the Smart Body Analyzer.

As you would expect from the bathroom-scale form factor, the Smart Body Analyzer senses your weight when you step on it. But thanks to that metal part in the middle, it can also meausre your body fat and heart rate. Oh, and it constantly measures your indoor air quality.

SmartThings

Want to sense more about the objects in your house? SmartThings makes sensors for everyday objects, and lets you dynamically program behavior. If you’re not home and someone comes to your door, a SmartThings motion sensor could send you an email about it.

SmartThings has a growing offering of products, and the possibilities are endless – like combining their open/shut sensor with their smart power outlet to turn off your air conditioning if anyone opens a window.

MyBrainSolutions

You know parents would love to sense? The precise, real-time development of their child’s brain. Luckily, there’s MyBrainSolutions. They offer a web app with games for kids. Little do the kids know, the games are actually mental tests. And they all feed into a dashboard for parents to track thinking skills, emotion skills, feeling skills and self-regulation skills.

Beam

So you want a sixth sense? How about an entire sensory presence?

Beam is a telepresence technology that lets you participate in events like CES from the comfort of your own laptop and webcam. Videoconferencing isn’t a new invention, but Beam is taking it up a notch by letting you remote control a robot that has your face. At CES, I talked with a robot embodying a saleswoman who was working remotely from Palo Alto, California.

After I took that picture, the Beam sales representative turned away and started wheeling toward another CES attendee visiting the booth. She didn’t have to be in the room to be an effective saleswoman on the floor!

Conclusion

Seeing all these sixth-sense apps at CES was eye-opening for me because it highlighted the limits of human perception. Like when I think the air quality in my bedroom is fine, it might actually be steadily declining. When I think my house is warm and cozy, there might actually be an open window. When I think my child is doing well in school, their brain’s development might actually be lopsided toward one type of intelligence. And when I videoconference into a meeting, I’m still missing the sense of walking around the office and talking to people one on one.

I’m looking forward to living in 2013 with an increased sensory awareness of my body and my surroundings, thanks to apps.