Smart Alarm App
Description of Idea: I hate being late. In fact, when I worked in film we had a saying, “If you’re not early, you’re late.” I already use my phone as an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. My phone already displays traffic on the map. I already have my calendar with dates, times and locations of appointments in my phone.
Now I want an app that keeps track of traffic conditions, construction and police activity and adjusts departure times accordingly so I’m not late. If I need to leave the house at 7am on a typical day to be at work at 7:45, and there’s a massive accident this morning that shut down 3 lanes on the freeway, I want the app to recognize that I need to leave (let’s say an hour) earlier and adjust.
Why should I be late because I didn’t know about a reported incident? If it affects me and it’s publicly available information, I should know.
The same should happen with appointments throughout the day. If something occurs along my route that will delay me, the app should adjust and notifiy me that I will need to leave earlier and suggest an alternate route.
The Problem Being Solved: Being late to a predetermined destination because of a lack of awareness about an impeding event that is reported is a little absurd at this point. The data is available. Google Maps can suggest multiple routes for driving, walking and public transportation. Traffic is viewable on the map with projected arrival times and crowd-sourced traffic apps like Waze use drivers to report police activity, construction and traffic incidents.
The “Smart Alarm” app would notify me of the best time to leave to make it to my destination on time.
Key Features: This app is great if it works well. If it wakes me up an hour early for an incident that doesn’t exist or isn’t severe, I’m pissed. I don’t want to lose an hour of sleep because my smart app was wrong. The key feature for this app is accuracy.
Using the crowd to verify or augment reported conditions would be a nice feature. I’m usually cautious about relying on anything that is purely crowd-sourced. I have had mixed results with apps like GasBuddy which uses the crowd to report local gas prices. Without a social element accuracy will likely suffer as some incidents will be missed. Finding the right balance of supplied data and crowd-sourcing information is crucial.
Competitors: An app called Inrix Traffic does a lot of this now. The Inrix mobile app for Android and iOS provides alerts for accidents, heavy congestion, and police activity. The app allows you to set a radius of 1-3 miles and receive real-time updates. Their incidents tab also displays upcoming events that could delay your commute.
The difference between the Smart Alarm app idea and Inrix’s would be in the UI and the intent. The Smart Alarm isn’t a traffic app. It has traffic data, but this is an alarm that goes off according to the conditions that affect your travel. It will wake you up early or sound in the middle of your day telling you to head to your meeting 30 minutes early. It’s synced with your calendar and maybe your contacts.
Along the time management line, there’s a simple iOS app called 4DCalendar that plots your day’s events on a map, making it easier to plan the best route in between stops. If 4DCalendar was a little more robust, designed as an alarm and had Inrix’s traffic data, it’d be perfect.
The next time I’m late, I want it to be because my smart alarm app went off suggesting I wake up an hour early and I hit snooze.
Author: Emil Gallardo
Photo Credit: Dave Herholz