Yesterday Samsung announced the new Galaxy S4 smartphone. It has been called the iPhone killer, while this seems to be the news item most outlets are reporting. The real interesting thing that happened during the launch announcement was their introduction of a line of heath devices along with the phone. Is this Samsung’s attempt at jumping ahead of Apple in the iHealth arena? There has been a lot of speculation that Apple’s alleged iWatch is going to be a health monitor that connects to iPhones. This wouldn’t be the first time that Apple wasn’t first to innovate, take the original iPod for example. They took the mp3 player and made the iPod, one might argue they are the same, but history has shown us that to the consumer they were not. Will this be a similar circumstance? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain. Consumers seem interested in self quantification and Samsung has decided to enter this market with the launch of their new flagship smartphone. Check out some of my earlier posts on self quantification here and
Wired is reporting that there are several new devices about to enter the market that track the a cars fuel economy. Griffin has the CarTrip and Automatic has what they are calling “Your Smart Driving Assistant“. These devices plug into your cars OBD port and are meant to show the driver just how they are spending their fuel dollars. This is a natural extension of the self-quantification phenomenon I’ve talked about earlier here. The Fitbit or Nuke Fuel have shown that people want to know how much they are moving around and to some extent augment their activity in a positive way based on this feedback. The premise is drivers will want to do the same sort of thing to their driving and potentially save some cash in the process. I’m sure that some auto enthusiasts will certainly enjoy a smartphone app that captures this data easily, but will the average consumer find this useful? I would guess that the answer is no. For a while now, most cars have been able to report fuel economy information back to drivers, albeit sometimes in a hard to decipher format, and this has not changed overall fuel consumption. If the data were presented in a more easy to read and actionable from will this help? Perhaps… Some early assessments of feedback mechanisms in hybrid cars, have shown that drivers can augment their habits when confronted with an easy to understand graphic, like the Ford leaf graphic used in some of its hybrid models. Overall I like the idea, I’m just not sure that it’s different enough from what’s currently already available in cars.