LBS World Forum: Context Matters!

Yesterday I participated in the LBS World Forum in Los Angeles. Some interesting topics came up that I’m sure to address here in the coming days/weeks. A quick shout-out to Jonathan and Roland for giving me some new Power of Mobility thoughts to chew on.

But I also wanted to repeat to this broader audience the statement that started my talk yesterday. I was excited to be with the LBS community yesterday because I believe they are foundational to the launching of the Mobility Revolution. If you go back to the two previous technology revolutions – the PC revolution was sparked by the killer app (VisiCalc) that made real and tangible the power of the PC over previous ways of doing business – the Internet revolution was sparked by the 3Cs (dynamic content, commerce, and community) that made real and tangible the power of the Internet to those who began to adopt it.

With mobility, I believe that context will make real and tangible the unique power of mobility. Where am I? Who am I with? What am I doing? How’s my schedule for the rest of the day? Who am I meeting with later today? Where am I going next? What’s the weather here? What’s the weather there? All of these factors already impact how we connect with information and connect with people. However, today the burden of making these connections falls to the individual user and the ease of adjusting how I connect varies dramatically across applications. Some of us are blessed with great assistants (thanks Deanna) who can take on some of this work, but more often than not we simply don’t have time to deal with it and end up either missing critical connections or becoming inefficient by defaulting to a “standard mode” that doesn’t well suit our current situation.

The power of mobility will become apparent, and will radically redefine how we live, work, and play, as our converged devices work cross-application to factor context into everything we do. Location Based Services (the LBS in “LBS World Forum”) are the first working examples of what this means.

As a quick example, consider the #TAXI service from CellWand, a Toronto-based company. #TAXI does something very common and very simple. By entering the short code, you call a taxi. However, the service is powerful because it takes into account the current context. It uses your location information (with your permission) to identify the taxi companies that are best able to serve you where you are and it uses telephone network context to quickly find a cab company that is ready to take your call (avoiding frustrating busy signals).

So hopefully you can start to see why I was excited to be with the LBS World Forum group yesterday. The experts gathered in that room are the very ones who are transforming mobility from convenience to the kind of power that can spark a revolution!

Power Up!

3 Responses to “LBS World Forum: Context Matters!”

  1. I couldnt agree more Russ!

    Nice post – I wrote recently about the importance of Context in Mobile Apps and was on the Carnival (I forget which edition now…)

    Here’s my post – http://www.bellubbi.com/wordpress/2006/08/14/handheld-interaction-design-why-context-is-important/

    It’s about time we as mobile application developers started to think more about how context could help improve the user experience.

  2. […] On the positive side, remember that I believe context is what will ignite the mobility revolution beyond our current view of mobility as merely an extension of the current Internet and voice networks. In other words, mobility will enable new uses that are only possible because they operate and interact with the physical world. Where am I? What’s the temperature? Who am I with? How’s my blood sugar? What’s my heart rate? How loud is the environment? How good is my network connection? What’s on my schedule later today? What’s the score of the football game? Is my flight on time? How’s the traffic to the airport? Is Al also running late? Some of this information already exists in the network and for any given activity, they may or may not be part of my context. Others can only factor into how I interact with the world and with information if mobility really happens in a way that unleashes my personal context into the equation. […]

  3. […] The real mobile revolution is happening with applications that do things that are impossible with the fixed web. Specifically, applications that leverage contextual information (where am I, who am I with, what’s on my calendar, etc.) create revolutionary value. […]

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