Smartphone push notifications haven’t evolved much since they first started to blossom on Android and later, iOS. You can get time-based and location-based reminders, and your phone can prompt you with certain actions based on accessories you’re currently using, but that’s it. Where do we go from here? How do notifications get smarter about how we live our lives?
A Smart Little Dot
A Kickstarter project by the simple name of Dot attempts to answer that question with its tiny household gadget. Dot is a small, inconspicuous device that you can strategically place around your house. It sends signals to your phone about where you are and what you might want to do. Dot uses Bluetooth to detect when you’re near it, then enables a wide possibility of notifications or actions surrounding what it learns through your usage habits.
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Dot sends signals to your phone about where you are and what you might want to do.
For instance, you might place one Dot in the kitchen. Through the Bluetooth connection on your phone, over time it might learn that whenever you’re in that room, you open a specific recipe app or check for the morning news. As such, Dot can start recommending those for you automatically when you’re nearby without you having to think about it.
But those type of notifications are only scratching the surface of what Dot is capable of. You can leave “post-it notes” at a Dot for a specific person. When he walks by carrying a phone, Dot will sense this and show him your message. You might also use Dot to control your smart home: it can automatically turn on lights when you walk into a room. Dot itself could even change color based on when a roommate is home or someone is occupying a bathroom.
Dot will have its own app community for developers to get on board and contribute even more ideas. You can also place as many Dots as you want around the house or even in a car so you’re always connected. It’s almost like a little digital butler for your phone.
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Dot itself could even change color based on when a roommate is home or someone is occupying a bathroom.
Dot is clearly a phenomenal iOS and Android accessory, but it begs the question: is this the future? Will all homes eventually have Dots placed all around them that work with smartphones to help make your life easier? It seems like a stretch. After all, Dot comes with some unavoidable limitations.
For instance, using Dot as a sensor for when you or someone else walks by it requires that you have your smartphone on you at all times. If you walk into a room while leaving your smartphone elsewhere, Dot won’t sense your presence. As such, the lights won’t go on or off, your Apple TV won’t automatically power on, and your roommate won’t know if you’re home or not. This could be partially solved by working with the Apple Watch as that’s with you more often than a phone, but still doesn’t completely alleviate the device reliance.
Dot is an extremely unique solution to problems our smartphones can’t solve quite yet — at least not on their own.
Additionally, we can’t rule out the possibility of eventually not needing Dot at all. Smartphones could gain more advanced location-tracking features. They could figure out what room or vehicle you’re in and make suggestions all on their own.
At time of writing, Dot is still currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, but already surpassed its modest goal of $20,000. A $20 pledge gets you one Dot, $55 gets you three, $85 gets you five and $170 gets you 10. The expected shipping date is March 2017 so you’ll have to wait for a while to receive them.
Is the Dot an unnecessary middleman? Well, probably yes, long term. It’s hard to envision a world where every home, car and office is filled with dozens of Dots. Right now, Dot is an extremely unique solution to problems our smartphones can’t solve quite yet — at least not on their own. It’s an exciting leap into an attainable future.