Analytics, Automation & Efficiency
Automation is showing up everywhere. Smartphones have become memory banks for data on everything from sleep patterns and running scores to to do lists and meal plans. it seems our phones know more about us than we do sometimes. The most prominent example of this is probably Google Now, which tracks your location, email and several other data points to give you travel time, weather and other information you didn't used to think you needed, but now feel like you can't live without.
One awesome example I ran across this week is Automatic.
Automatic tracks your driving to help you develop better driving habits, such as alerting you when you accelerate to quickly, stop too abruptly, etc. The advertisement says it can save you up to a third on gas over the course of a year.
Another example is the Nest, which I've written about previously.
The Nest saves energy by learning your habits and automatically turning itself off when you're away from home.
We've had one in our apartment for almost a year now, and it really works. Of course, my roommate took it as a license to turn the thermostat down to 60 or off constantly, so my sample's probably distorted. Regardless, I've been tracking our gains and some months we save upwards of 35 percent on heating, which is nice.
They also send you these really nifty reports at the end of the month telling you how awesome you are for saving energy. Here's our most recent report.
The final product I will discuss is unlike the other two in that there's no physical device being employed.
If This Then That (IFTTT) may be one of the most important web applications around. It allows you to set 'recipes' that help your applications work with each other. For example, you can set IFTTT to send all links to articles that you post to Instapaper or Pocket or set it to send you a text message anytime snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. Though this recipe may be the best one I've seen so far.
If you have a moment, it's definitely worth it to browse the services' available recipes. You might just find one you could really use.