Apps are becoming more humanized

NEW YORK– New year, new name. Last February 22, the NUI (Natural User Interface) Meetup on its fourth year became the HUI (Humanized User Interface) Meetup. It was said to be a more accurate description as “the advancements today enable apps and devices to interact with us like we do with other people,” the organizer Ken Lonyai and Debra Benkler said.

http://www.meetup.com/HUI-Central-NY/events/226386935/

As the hosts, the organizers talked about where HUI is headed, how to best use it in projects and products and how to develop HUI-based user experiences as well as use the plethora of APIs available right now.

Differentiating NUI from HUI, Benkler said NUI  as coined by Steve Mann, are actions that come naturally to human users–the user of nature as an interface itself. For many, the definition has supposedly come to mean any interface that is natural to the user.

Natural is not without without its issues while HUI is said to unify human-like experience, reducing barriers to human machine interactions, extending the benefits of technology and engaging greater segments of the population.

“HUI is multi-sensory and bi-directional. It mimics real world interactions. It’s immersive. It can make devices effectively invisible,” the hosts said.

The hosts discussed HUI technologies from touch, gesture, voice, eye tracking, object/facial recognition, among others.

On touch, supposedly the most underdeveloped HUI technology, Lonyai talked about trends in haptics. “Future haptics will stimulate temperature and viscosity. At this point, screen touch will be considered an HUI for a telepresence, in-air haptics, conductive fabric and real-world objects.

On gesture, Lonyai said there will be more uses of body movements to interact with a system. Typically, it requires a specialized equipment: 3D depth sensing camera (Kinect); electromyography device (Miyo); and ultrasound transducers. 3D depth cameras are largely peripherals but that is said to change in 2016.

How do 3D depth sensing cameras work? They project a field of infrared points and the points are read by the cameras to determine depth.

The point data is processed and a primitive image is created. It can also be used for skeletal tracking using algorithms. Changes in position can be measured and correlated to mean or do almost anything. Depth sensing cameras can also track heart rates.

For Lonyai, UX Best practices on gesture must know system limitations; design large interaction areas; minimize gorilla arms, avoid customer gestures and avoid creating occlusions in addition to using contextual-based affordances and consider cultural issues.

With gorilla arms, he was referring to how you can’t have your arms hanging for long periods of time, pointing out how Tom Cruise in “Minority Report” even got tired having his arms up during the shoot of the film.

What about object/facial recognition? Since humans can distinguish over 30,000 visual objects in a few hundred milliseconds, it definitely makes object-facial recognition interesting to explore. He cited how 2D and 3D APIs can make determination of facial “landmarks.” This means that the minute details of your face can be captured–the distance between the eyes, the width of the nose, the depth of the eye sockets, the shape of your cheekbones.

“It’s going to be all about ‘authentication vs identification’,” he said.

How to get noticed in a marketplace overflowing with apps

By Dennis Clemente

How many apps do you have on your smartphone? How many do you actually use? In a 2010 study by Localytics, 26% of apps downloaded were just used once. The problem persists to this day with nearly 7 billion mobile apps downloaded, but with one in four apps never used again. Consider that Apple has nearly 800,000 apps—and growing; we haven’t even mentioned the fact that most of them are free, not counting other apps made for Android and other devices. How do you get people to notice your app?

Still, app developers have a reason to be optimistic, when sales of apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions across smartphones and pads combined are projected to hit $36.7 billion by 2015, according to Canalys. Total of apps now is 1.7 million.

The potential to earn from apps is there as long as consumers can find you. For advertising, that’s a creative challenge. For a news hound, that’s a story. For a startup, that’s a daunting one that requires entrepreneurs of the app kind to come together.

Last April 30 at the Alley NYC, they gathered together to find out “How to get noticed in a marketplace overflowing with apps.” Jake Ward, executive director of the Application Developers Alliance, served as moderator, with guest speakers Arie Abecassis, co-founder of AppStori; Mark Ghermezian, CEO of Appboy; Louis Simeonidis, CMO of Applico; Michael Ludden, senior technical marketing manager at Samsung Developers; and Glen Nigel Straub, director of Global Monetization Solutions at Millennial Media.

Guest speakers at Alley NYC
Guest speakers at Alley NYC
Abecassis led the panel of speakers—and rightfully so, as his company AppStori serves a higher calling for the rest of us who may want to have our own app but can’t afford to do so. It’s kickstarter.com for apps, a crowdsourcing and funding platform that connects mobile app consumers with developers.

Abecassis talked about the importance of lead-generation marketing your mobile apps, from concept to completion. He cited the importance of relationships with bloggers and app review sites as well as cross promotions. He suggested appflood.com, the only 100% transparent and 100% commission-free platform for trading app installs. “Favorable reviews can create appvocates.”

If one has an advertising budget in place, he suggested pay per click mobile advertising, which can increase an app visibility and rate of conversion. Constantly tracking and analyzing your success or progress is also highly recommended.

“Don’t fall in love with your idea too much. Test as many tools as possible to see which tools yield the most downloads and usage for your apps,” he said.

Beyond marketing, it was also discussed how improving the experience for users may help promote apps more effectively. Would it, for example, be a good idea to try an app before downloading it? Should there be a better curation of all the apps?

And how much does it cost to succeed in this business?

It’s a question that proved to be the hardest to answer. For Ghermezian, it’s about choosing the right team, which everyone at the panel agreed. But everyone was also in agreement that you just can’t get the best team right away, so it’s essential that you launch an app project, even with all its imperfections.

Ghermezian was emphatic about just having your app out there instead of constantly tweaking one’s app.

Straub said creating apps for Microsoft and Blackberry, being new to the marketplace, could pay off. Ludden mentioned developing for Samsung, while Simeonidis said Facebook is another option.

“More than the cost, it’s the sweat equity you put in,” added Straub whose mobile ad company Millennial Media identifies the best ad types, features and actions that most effectively engage consumers.

The event was organized by the Applications Developers Alliance Emerging Technology & Research Working Group. Visit devsbuild.it for resources to grow and analyze your business.

9 app presenters? It’s March Madness at NYTech Meetup

By Dennis Clemente

What if the NY Tech Meetup last March 19 was really about how apps are imitating life. Think of how Ontodia’s pediacities.com is SIM City overlord, helping digital cities of our future through big, linked, open city data, as iRescU.com hovers as an app that leverages social media and crowdsourcing to save lives—your life would be a good start. Imagine locating the nearest defibrillator, for instance, with the flick of the iRescU app.

Schools are multilingual as we know it in the world of clarity.com; teachers communicate with students’ parents in their language through instant real-time translation. What are the parents saying? They’re moving to another house nearby using moveline.com, a simple way to get organized, compare prices and hire movers you can trust. And because you don’t want the movers to get lost, you take photos and post on yext.com, which synchronizes your contact info in every site you have.

Since the main feature of the mobile phone is the camera, you find yourself taking more photos than usual, because you’re marveling at shutterstock.com’s new color search—and you’re thinking of making an extra dough. Cool, right? Not until you use aviary.com did you realize you can take photos for the moveline movers to know where your monument to Daenerys Targayen should be glorified in your shoebox of a room.

When you arrive in your new abode, you plunk down on the sofa, checking your emails on your tablet on birdseyemail.com. Ah, how stimulating to see your email in gmail—in gorgeous, multi-dimensional folders that suit your very organized, meticulous, app-driven life; have an “appy” life now, okay.

So as you’re sitting down and thinking of unwinding, you check out where your new buddies are on your foursquare.com account. We’re talking pediacities’ Joel Natividad and co-founder Sami Baig; RescU’s Nadine Levick, Nicholas Skipitaris, Stellah Deville; Clarity’s Liang Shi, Volkam Unsal; Moveline’s Kelly Eidson, Frederick Cook; Birdseye’s Adam Salcitt-Gucwa and HJ Kwon; Yext’s Howard Lerman and his spacey shoes, Rich Hong; Shutterstock’s Wyatt Jenkins, Eric Smiling, Josh Black; Aviary’s Chevon Christie, Avi Muchnick; and Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley who just took us back in time four years ago when his company was founded, and how his app has already garnered 3 billion check-ins to this day.

It’s good to know they are all within app reach, but there are a billion more people to reach, more apps to report and remain unpublished. Crowley claims local search is broken, so is searching for publications to publish this piece. Try to solve that. Yes, I know it’s quite a tall order.

You could say an app a day takes you worlds away, but the NYTech certainly takes the cake for having nine presenters in one night, more than any I’ve attended since the beginning of the year and probably enough for Mayor Bloomberg to check if he should impose a sensory limit.

This is March madness!
(Apologies to everyone, this blogger has seasonal colds.)