Innovation continues unchecked in the world of consumer facing organizations and applications, particularly in the world of information availability.
Comparison Shopping – Invisible Hand is a Firefox add-on named for Adam Smith’s description of the free market benefit in his publication The Wealth of Nations. The add-on automatically looks up other vendors for whatever product you may be have on your browser and provides a pop-up to allow the user to go directly to that page, or look at other retailers’ prices. Yet another example of the potential of perfect information – great for consumers – tough for retailers.
Augmented Reality – If you needed another reason to get an iPhone 3GS beyond Apple fanboy status, this one is quite flashy. Yelp! is a service locator that allows one to look up restaurants and other services based on a geographic location. When you open the yelp! iPhone application and search on a service – like pizza for example – it puts flags on a map, and if you tap the flags it opens up small boxes that indicate the name and rating of pizzerias on the map. It also has a killer undocumented feature. If you open the application and shake the phone, a button that reads Monocle appears in the top corner. The map in the screen is now replaced by the live image from the phone camera lens. Based on where the camera is pointed, at a local pizzeria for example, that same small box with the name and rating of the pizzeria comes up as an overlay on the image. Expect reviews on systems like this to gain ever increasing importance to consumer facing organizations as these sorts of applications become widely available.
Simplified Access – Air Canada has released an iPhone app, and it is a worthwhile download. One argument against obtaining a boarding pass on the mobile is the challenge of entering a great deal of text – be it login, password, frequent flyer number. Now this can be stored on the phone via the application for simpler access to boarding passes as well as schedule information and personal travel info.