Your Planet Sustainable?Your Tribe Harmonious?Your Life Vibrant?
Future Proof Ideas since 2005, by Erwin van Lun

Trend observations, analysis and future predictions since 2005

Category: Social

The social coaching brand facilitates contacts with other human beings. If Jane would be the name of our future social coaching brand, we would just say “Jane, call Chris for me please”. Jane appears and establishes our contact with Chris. She doesn’t ask for last names: she already knows them. Jane can also get us in touch with others: brands, or people we don’t know. Through text, audio, and video. And in the long term also through other channels, like holographic projections. Jane can even facilitate mutual transactions for second-hand products and services. With Jane, you can connect to the whole world without even knowing your numbers.

TellMe: voice commands for Windows Mobile 6,5

TellMe for Windows Mobile 6.5 isn't just an app, it's a one-button hub for voice commands of all kinds, including text messaging, making calls, and also jumping to Microsoft Live Search with natural language queries like "weather in San Francisco, California," "pizza in Kansas City" or "mother's day gift ideas."

Google Voice skips your operator

Google Voice, is an alternative call apllication to run on smart phones or other devices. Google Voice is now about to hit iPhones by way of an app. This app for the iPhone has immediately access to your contacts.

Here is how it works: you don't press you regular 'Phone' application, but you select your Google Voice button. You just dial a number or select it from your contacts, as you would do in your regular phone application. The App diales out to Google and you' be a called back to connect both sides and you press the Green button. In this way, you do not only skip the standard fees charged to you by your operator, it will also allow you to maintain your calls from any other smartphone or devices. It actually disconnects your telephone number from your device. Additionally, you can also SMS people the same way.

Related trends

Google Wave: a new communication platform

Wave is a new communication platform by Google. It's a Frothy Collaborative Mix of Chat, Instant Messaging, Twitter and Google Docs in Real-Time: A "wave" is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more..

Here's how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use "playback" to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

Related trends

Table helps during dating

Carnegie Mellon undergraduates Dan Eisenberg, Kevin Li and Ilya Brin have developed the EyeTable, which is described as "an artificially intelligent dinner table that reads physical gestures and speech patterns and lets the participants know how the date is going—in real time.

The EyeTable is composed of a centerpiece and two headpieces. Sensors placed on these parts detect fluctuations in tone of voice, periods of silence, and distance between the couple. If the EyeTable detects that the date is not going well, it will try to help the couple by suggesting some post-dinner activities or by suggesting another bottle of wine. If the EyeTable detects that the date is beyond help, it will instead give the numbers for the local cab companies.

LegacyLocker notifies your friends after you died

Legacy Locker notifies friends (in online worlds) of your death. When you're still alive, you create a secure environment where you can store all your passwords. When something has happened, Legacy Locker will require a copy of your death certificate before releasing information. Surviving relatives then get access to your mail accounts, online services you used and your online friends. The service costs $30 per year.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

Whether we’re talking about our identity in the virtual world or in the physical world: in the mind of people it’s all the same. Whenever someone disappears, they’ll be missed. And to miss someone is a negative emotion. To address this emotion, new companies will step into this market. And this is just the first step.

Social networks will soon integrate this functionality. In the next step, they will first make sure that each individual profile is checked with a birth certificate (or authorisation by the country of the individual’s nationality) to make sure each profile really represents one single individual. As soon as someone claims that someone is dead, it has already been in the national administration, so it can be acknowledged immediately and death can be communicated by their relatives. The social network will offer services to help those who are left behind to handle their emotions. That will be much more important than just informing them.

That’s how social networks evolve into social coaching brands.

Related trends

IRLConnect plots Facebook and Twitter on Google Map

IRLconnect connects to your friend profiles on Facebook and Twitter and plots them on a (Google) map. This visualizes not only what your friends are doing but also where they are doing that. Op top, you can change your status for all platforms instanteneously. IRL Connect is private beta. However, you could use the invitekey which is at the bottom of this posting on one of my favorite Dutch websites DutchCowboys.

Related trends

Google shows where your friends are

Google is letting consumers share their location with friends and family on Google Maps for Mobile under the name Google Latitude. To use it, you first need to download the newest version of Google Maps for Mobile and activate Latitude. Then you can invite your friends to share their location with you. When they accept the invitation you can see their location on a Google Maps for Mobile map after which you're given the opportunity to call, text or email them or even chat with them.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

This is how even Google can grow into a social coaching brand. From Gmail and Google Talk contact lists are created in which Google can even see whom you have more and less contact with. Those contact lists can be used to look up acquaintances fast. Furthermore, with the Android phone, Google can see who’s calling and texting you. This way Google creeps very closely to your friends’ circle and can then offer more added value there.

Related trends

Hyves lets you sort your friends

Dutch social network Hyves lets you sort your friends into groups. You can make a maximum of 7 groups, of which 'family' and 'business' are set. You can use these groups to send a message to part of your friends with one click, for example. Or place a 'WhoWhatWhere' which not all your friends are allowed to see. No one can see who's in which group. In future you'll also be able to use friends groups for other parts, such as photos.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

The amount of friends is becoming less important as a status symbol; the amount of contact moments you have and the depth of them, how social you are, that’ll be a lot more important. Currently you have to sort your friends groups automatically, but later social coaching brands will start to give you advice: “Does Marijke, your colleague from work with whom you exchange only business notes, really see all this personal stuff?” That’s how social coaching brands will understand your private life ever better. This is a start.

Related trends

Marrying on MySpace

Social network MySpace is working together with video content producer Endemol on a new show in which the social network organises the preparations for a wedding. The social reality show will count 13 episodes and is called 'Get Married on MySpace'.

Different couples can sign up, and the network will vote for their favourite couple. It doesn't stop there, however: the network can –- after selecting their favourite couple -- make the most important decisions. The dress, the wedding location, everything is decided by the MySpace-visitor.

The last episode will be devoted to the wedding ceremony and can be watched live on MySpace.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

Social coaching brands are looking for added value that fits with their future function: bringing and keeping people together. So not selling music, vacation reviews or gadgets, but focusing solely on maintaining relationships. This exactly fits in this completely.

Related trends

Facebook puts friends on telephone homepage

Facebook is now available on the Xperia™ X1 phone of Sony Ericsson. On this photos of your friends will integrate on the desktop of your phone (standby-screen), you can see their latest status changes if you touch the pictures and you get more options if you touch them again, including calling them. Furthermore you can quickly upload photos to Facebook. The Facebook panels can be downloaded for free using the built-in download function of the smartphone or from the Sony Ericsson website (choose 'Panels')

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

Personal media connects to what’s closest to people: friends, family, warm relationships. Currently it’s useful to call with 1 click, but later on you can say that you’d like to be called only by friends, or by friends of friends. That brands still want to call too, that’s their problem. All brands we trust get a separate rule and can call us on occasion. And brands like Facebook, social coaching brands in the making, are at the gate to remove their unwanted behaviour (permanently). It won’t be long now.

Related trends

Xobni gives friends’ communication statistics

Xobni is an Outlook-plugin that displays a lot of information in an extra right hand column. It can display contact information (including, for example, one's Skype address), link to profiles on social networks, statistics of the communication with individual contacts (amount of emails to this person in the past day/week/month) and how this person scores compared to others, related contacts (based on ccs) and ongoing conversations. Xobni gets the contact information from the email signatures. If you want to look up someone and you type an 'a' then Xobni will immediately look up 'Adam', a person you have a lot of contact with. Tip: Boris Toet

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

And this shows us how social coaching brands are slowly developing. Where first we made just a list of friends, now we’ll start to differentiate between friends, between contacts. Xobni helps us to analyse them. So that when we call ‘Call William’ in the car, it’s immediately clear which William you mean, even though you have five listed in Outlook. This kind of functionality will be taken over by all social network and communication tools.

Eventually we’ll choose one brand that watches all our contacts for us across all social networks. And which will help us maintain those relationships. Suggesting presents for a birthday is a simple example, helping is with organising a party for this specific person is a second, but eventually brands like Xobni will listen in on a conversation to make us (afterwards) aware of how we communicate. So that we can take it into account in future. We’re nowhere near that yet. After all, everything goes, you guessed it, step by step.

Related trends

Hyves on the iPhone

Hyves, a Dutch social network, now has an application for the iPhone. The application has an address book with the contact details of all Hyvesfriends. With a press of a button the iPhone user can call his or her friends, mail them, text message them or send a note or PM. Besides that photos made with the iPhone can easily be placed on the Hyvespage and Hyvesphotos can be watched on the iPhone.

In a next version a map will be made available. You can use it to see where your friends are. This option, however, won't be available until next year. You'll also be able to see per spot which events there are and which of your friends are already there.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

More and more brands are discovering that there are many more screens beside the TV and the internet. The amount of screens will explode in the coming years and brands will appear on all of them. This is an example of that.

Furthermore we see in this development that technology is disappearing. If there’s anything that’s technical, it’s a phone number. Currently you add your phone number to your Hyves-profile yourself and friends can then call you. Now they still see the number, but later even that won’t be necessary anymore. And in the long term, you won’t know your number anymore either; it’ll be connected to the way you ‘sign up in the virtual world’ and you’ll be able to do that since childhood (so in a decade or so), so you won’t know any better than that it’s all automatic. It’s about wanting to call someone; not dialing a number, but calling someone’s name. That’s hidden in this.

Facebook lets brands connect people

Using Facebook Connect brands can discover whether their customers really know one another. Firstly it's a means for site manages not to do any identification of site visitors, but to let Facebook do it. For example, who registers on video community site HowCast clicks on the 'FConnect' button (or: 'register via Facebook'). Then an extra screen is added in which have to enter your Facebook username/password and then returns you to the main screen. Your name and photo have now appeared and your gender has been entered too. Useful, easy, and quick.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

Yet it won’t stop here. Facebook claims ‘real identity’. Of course there’s no sign of that. On Facebook too you can pretend to be whoever you want and you can take that weird identity with you everywhere. Later on you’ll really need to verify your identity on Facebook, using a copy of your passport and Facebook will make a distinction between ‘authenticated users’ and ‘registered users’. And later that won’t be good enough either and you’ll need to identify yourself in a physical office to make a connection to a social networking account. Every social networking account, not just Facebook. And that world-wide. And then we’re not even talking about password security. Actually you should be connected through your webcam, Facebook can look into your eyes, have a small conversation with you (all automated of course) and only then let you join. If we’re talking about ‘real identity’ there are still some steps to take.

But for brands this already offers gigantic opportunities. Finally you can understand what role your customers play in social life. Which consumers are connected? How do they (and exactly they) pass things along? Brands can finally start to think tribally to get access to the customers social life.

Related trends

Netlog application for iPhone

Netlog, a European social network, is now also available as iPhone application. The application allows you to upload pictures directly to your Netlog profile. Furthermore the application uses GPS and if you indicate what you're doing, your friends will also see where you're doing that. The application is available in English, German, Spanish, Finnish, French and Italian.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

Brands are creeping very close to the consumer, namely in their cell phone and in their friends list. Furthermore, they speak your language. Currently only in a few languages, in time all the languages in the world, in all accents, and furthermore social coaching brands, of which Netlog is a primal form, will know exactly those words you and your friends use, and know how to play with those. We might talk about customer intimacy, but in comparison to what’s coming, everything that’s been pales.

Related trends

Hyves on iPhone

Social network Hyves is now available on the iPhone. This allows you to se if your friends are available for chatting, texting, leaving a message or calling someone directly by touch. Before the end of 2008 another (java) application suitable for other cell phones will be released as well.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

This is the essence of social coaching. Hyves facilitates not just the exchange of text messages, but also of speech by letting users call each other. In a next step you’ll be able to leave voice mail and Hyves can save the conversations in a file, even type it out for you. All automated. Hyves will then be our contact to ‘calling’ others instead of a box in a car. We just call out ‘John’ (an example of Hyves’ brand agent), John appears and we ask John to connect us. Then Hyves can analyze the emotions in your conversation, give you tips about wording your thoughts and feelings and in this way help you manage your relationships with your friends. We’ll be twenty years along then, but that’s where Hyves will slowly be offering added value. Not as a fun tool, but as a brand that will take a special place in people’s lives.

GMail recognizes ‘hot’ contacts

Google's Gmail recently added a voice and video chat function which makes it possible to video-chat within Gmail. With this new function you can start a video conversation without first having to open a separate application or making a new account. And if you don't have a webcam, you can chat by voice. Google recognizes from your email traffic with a person who your friends are and gives you access to your online status so you can chat with this. You can also turn this option off (Automatically allow people I communicate with often to chat with me and see when I'm online). Keeping a contact list is no longer needed.

Future vision by Erwin van Lun

Social coaching brands understand who your friends are. Not because they’re registered elsewhere, but because we have ‘hot’ contacts. Currently based on the amount of contacts, but soon based on the contact of the contacts: do we say nice things or is arguing all we do? Is it purely business? Then maybe we shouldn’t be disturbed in the evening or weekends. That’s the next step. To afterwards analyze the (spoken) conversations and really help us with starting, maintaining and breaking off relationships. This is a start.

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