Apps and users: how much sharing is enough?
I saw a tweet this morning from @GOK8 linking to a blog post from the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation. It was about the experience of two people, both of whom work at the center, using the Jawbone Up. The excerpt below shows where they ended up:
..Nadia and I both began this experiment with enthusiasm and excitement that after a week and a half has dissipated. We are now both rather bored with the device. The constant logging, updating and remembering to switch modes makes the Up a bit of a nuisance. While you’re not required to update the app frequently, it is the only way to track the data. Without frequent updates behavior modification is difficult to understand and less likely to happen. Nadia also questions if the data accuracy falls off if it is not dumped often into the app.
The device had its problems:
Technically speaking we found a few quirks that we hope will be worked out in the new version: The iPhone application crashed frequently and the syncing often failed too. The other drawback is that the band is only compatible with a “specific” iOS device (always use the same device to synch your data) and does not work with other mobile platforms. It also does not have a desktop version of the application where you could upload the data if you did not have an iOS device. Regarding the workout mode, I’m an avid elliptical user and because the movement I make is different than that of running the Up was unable to accurately track my workouts, though Nadia felt that it was accurate with running.
And then came the realization of what was being shared:
We quickly realized that sharing what time you go to sleep, how you sleep, when you work out, and how much you walk during the day reveals a lot of personal information about you to your team members. Nadia remembers thinking, “Why didn’t Allison sleep very well last night? What was she doing?” You can imagine that the reasons for not working out, not sleeping well, or walking 10 miles can often be things you might not want to disclose to everyone you know. Even the most mundane facts about your life feel like very personal information when you share them unfiltered.
It's well known that the Jawbone Up had its problems, but when you read about people actually using the device and mapping their experience, it opens the door to the realization that the developers of the Jawbone Up had more issues to deal with than just the technical issues that lead to it failing.
Perhaps the device and app weren't around long enough, or used by a large enough customer base, for the company to track real-life results from usage, but the experiences outlined in the blog post above certainly point to some assumptions that were taken on how people would use it.
The question is: do people want to constantly check in, track, upload data, upload photos and share with their friends etc? It's best not to assume that that's the case. You may want to ask them first.