Wearable data business models re-imagined

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I’ve been thinking about this, off-and-on, over the last few weeks, ever since I had a conversation with a chap hoping to build up a large database of Type 2 diabetes related stats, analysis of which would allow his firm to develop a tool to help sufferers self-manage their own care.

In the context of our own interest in getting hold of large amounts of data from wearable devices with movement information related to exercises, I began to think about the differences, wondering what they might suggest.

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Fleep is the word … it’s got groove, it’s got meaning…

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I’ve just read about, then immediately joined, then immediately fallen in love with…  Fleep.

In common with many others, I have hated email for years; such a clunky old tool, used, because of its ubiquity and peerless network advantage, for everything – even though 90% of the use cases are horribly inappropriate (can you imagine the nightmares engendered by a 4 year old ‘reply all’ email used for arranging an annual street party?).

I have used many other things – google groups, wikis, chat, groupware, application-specific commenting tools – some of which were rather better, some of which were rather worse than email – but each of them not email, and sometimes that was good enough.

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Announcing MyPhysioLink

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After being a little coy about what I’m actually working on, it seems that it is time to come clean.

It’s been a slow-moving project, partly as I’m still having to earn a living doing architecture, and partly because my co-founder is even busier. But we’re about to step up a gear, both in time commitment and with an upcoming test-marketing launch, and so the time has come to make it public.

My co-founder is a physiotherapist. We’ve known each other for ages, but it wasn’t until I had an episode of frozen shoulder that I understood a/ how good a physio he is, b/ how important physiotherapy is, and c/ how ante-diluvian the systems around physiotherapy are.

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DeepMind takes baby steps, but this is significant

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When, a year ago, Google bought, for a reported $400M, a small and previously little known British artificial intelligence startup called DeepMind, the acquisition was widely reported, the general press essentially saying; “Gosh golly, these tech type geniuses are, like .. wow! And they get rich too!”(1,2).

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Aside

I love C2!

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Noodling around after posting the post just before this one, I have been allowing C2.com to take me where my curiosity leads. In the immortal words of Calvin (late C20th Watterson incarnation, rather than C16th French theologian – ain’t reincarnation wonderful?);

Boy-o-Boy-o-Boy-o-Boy!

A few of my finds…

Semantic Web

Frame Problem

Delete Me

– Inclusion here indicates no judgement as to the correctness of any of the points of view on the pages – merely that they are interesting. The informational and argumentational density of these pages is just gorgeous!

 

Costing coding work – and the value of experienced intuition

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OK, I’ve come to an impasse with what I’m doing at the moment – banging my head against a particular wall for a few hours too long.

Time to move on to another topic; pull out the mental list of all the things that need to be at least thought about in order to move our startup forward.

IP, MVP, business model, data protection, regulatory environment, legal structure, read more about Scrum/Agile, marketing strategy, logo design, data structures, UX prototyping …  …  … …  (…:::!!!!)

OK, here’s one: how much money are we going to need to spend on coding to get to a scalable MVP launched?

Big question! Cost estimation is a big deal in traditional bricks-and-mortar architecture, too, so I’m aware that this is not a subject to be taken lightly or fudged. A frequent and serious pain point in construction projects is when project estimate costs rise significantly AFTER the client is committed. Whatever else happens when this occurs, confidence and morale are dented, usually badly.

Construction clients want to spend as little as possible while statutory consents are at risk, and one way to spend less up-front is to do lightweight cost estimation (on the back of lightweight specification) and hope for the best. Of course, even if they have misgivings about these estimates, consultants are often unwilling to rock the boat at an early stage, not wanting to be the messenger that gets shot. Less scrupulous players have even been known to downplay cost risk until the client is committed, and then milk the situation (‘Oh, you wanted us to do the roof? Oh no, we never included for that. Yeah, yeah, I know you need a roof – rainin’ innit? Let me see what I can do for ya. Not gonna be cheap though – you wouldn’t want to skimp on a roof, wouldja?’).

So my approach to construction projects is almost always to convince clients of the value of making a larger-than-typical effort at the early stages to address all the likely risks – I’d rather have a client cancel early than go into something that is going to turn into hell for everyone. If they come up with another project in a few years perhaps they’ll remember me as that honest chap who saved them from getting burned.

So, can I do this with software?

It seems not. In fact, it seems not, big-style. Continue reading

… eating glass, staring into the abyss

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I was talking to my friend Mark van Harmelen of Hedtek (of whom more in a later post) about setting off on this path, and he gave me this quote from Elon Musk;

Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.

This was meant kindly, of course; did I really want to put myself in this position, this level of stress?

There are two parts to a response to this; firstly, do I believe that this really what it’s like?

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Tools – FilemakerPro

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At a time when new web-based tools that help with one aspect or another of the development cycle pop up every other week, and when the number of free development environments is so large that choosing between them might be seen as a job in itself, it might seem odd to be promoting a database aimed at non-technical users as a prototyping environment – especially when it will be 20 years old next birthday. Factor in the cost – at around £280, it’s easily 100 times the cost of a typical app – and you might be wondering about my sanity.

But as I kicked around the options for getting a working MVP of our health/fitness app to the point where I can show potential users and investors something that actually works, and which will communicate the value of what we have imagined through hands-on use rather than verbiage, I was finding it hard to stay positive.

The options seemed to boil down to two:

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Tools – Prototyping on Paper

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ClimateActivateMe Prototype on Paper

My friend Ross (an excellent illustrator and creator of animated shorts, by the way – look here – and here for more) suggested I have a look at POP – Prototyping on Paper. I did, and it’s fantastic. Very simple and intuitive to use, and you get testable results with clickable links, fast.

Here’s a proposal I made for the September 21 People’s Climate March (to which I hope you will be going – look here). Once I’d drawn the wireframes, this took about an hour and was my first real use of the app.

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