It’s been a wild ride at Daemonic Labs, the startup I cofounded with Pete and Santosh. A couple of weeks ago, we released our first public version of Dabble, the product we’ve been working on for almost a year. Plenty of publications picked up the news including the New York Times in their article titled, Could These Start-Ups Become the Next Big Thing?. This happened organically shortly after our official launch at DEMO. Other publications include CNET, TheNextWeb, betakit and VentureBeat. La Nacion in Argentina, Wayerless, infotechnology and many others wrote about us as well. We’re stoked about the outpouring of support and coverage for Dabble. We know this is the first step of an exciting journey and we want to bring our supporters along by explaining in more detail the thinking behind the first version of the product.
Let’s start with smartphones. I view smartphones not only as geographically aware multipurpose interfaces but also as devices that understand and measure significant daily metrics which give more context to social interactions online. According to Clive Thompson of the New York Times, “Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it “ambient awareness.” It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye.” Metrics like weather, distance, time of day, calories burned are now measured in real time and are easily accessible. The work of a properly designed application or service is to give them contextual meaning and to make them highly relevant to the user.
The new crop of geolocation apps needs to be a lot smarter and evolve dramatically from the status quo. As technology evolves and people demand more from their devices, real time data and time become factors that help deliver a better user experience without dominating. Is it more important for a user what is happening right now or is it more valuable to deliver a crafted recommendation based on interests and relevance? –– As users get more sophisticated and application developers understand the subtleties of adding value to a person’s –not some abstract user’s– life, applications will evolve to support real needs.
Which brings me back to Dabble and our vision. We look at the smartphone as a device to interact with your surroundings intelligently. Dabble makes the world around you more meaningful and interesting. A tool that synthesizes data and makes it relevant to you.
For instance, I traveled to New York City a year ago. I took Dabble with me (I take Dabble with me where ever I go.) and created content by placing digital postcards around the city in the places I love. With any other app I basically forget that I’ve created that content and once I’m back home, the digital breadcrumbs are gone and are rendered useless. With Dabble, I leave that content there and -literally- one year later I still see people stumbling upon these postcards. It is such a great feeling to discover postcards that were left there months before. Dabble postcards are preserved in time and space for people to discover them later and reengage with the content. I’ve had conversations with people I don’t know that have stumbled upon the postcards I’ve left in New York City, Miami, Peru, Argentina and Ecuador.
These connections happen due to the emotional charge that a Dabble user shares when creating a postcard. A postcard has an image, a location, a creation time and a piece of text. Pictures are key and they are truly worth a thousand words. The message and the location give context to the postcard. It makes it timeless, useful and magical.