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The Ideal Mobile Personal Assistant



Some love the fact that mobile tech is able to predict more and more of our daily routines. Some not so much. I happen to be one of those who likes the semi-predictive nature of services like Google Now. Now. But I’d like to see services like this grow and offer more options for those who need or desire them. In fact, I’m looking for the ideal mobile personal assistant. Sure there are personal assistant type Apps and services out there, but they don’t go far enough. Here’s what my ideal mobile personal assistant would do for me on a given day.

The alarm goes off at whatever time I set. After a few moments that allow me to put my feet on the floor and grab the first cup of coffee the personal assistant would ask me (via audio) “Are you ready to hear about your day?” I’d answer in the affirmative or ask for a delay. When I do wish to start hearing about my day I’d hear about what’s coming up, whether that be meetings, phone calls I have to make, packages to be delivered, or chores to do.



Next, the personal assistant would tell me what the weather is going to be for the day and perhaps the next three. If I’m planning to travel in a few days, perhaps the personal assistant would tell me what the weather is currently at my next location and what the expected forecast there is. If ¬†there is the possibility of travel delays because of weather, the personal assistant would give me a heads up. Then the personal assistant would move on to news. Based on parameters I’d set, the personal assistant would tell me about news items that interest me and any breaking news items that might be of note. The personal assistant would give me options to delve further into those stories or save them for later retrieval. Then the personal assistant would tell me of any important social events coming up in the next period of time that I specify such as birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions my friends may be observing, etc…

After the personal assistant has finished running through the news and personal headlines, I’d like it to tell me where I am on my fitness goals for the week and make recommendations for what I need to do if I’m lagging behind. After stepping on the scales for the morning weigh-in, the personal assistant would tell me how I’m doing on my weight goals. While I’m preparing or eating breakfast I’d like to be able to dictate what I’m eating so that figures into whatever mix of calories or cholesterol count I’m watching. If I have prescriptions that will need filling within the next few days I’d like to know that info as well as receive a gentle reminder that it is time to down a pill. I’d also like to know of any upcoming bills that will need to be paid, whether they are selected for automatic payment or not.

As I start the day the personal assistant would follow me throughout providing appropriate updates based on the ideas mentioned above, but limited to a series of notifications that I could select. If the personal assistant is tied into my car, I’d like to know when I need to fill up or get an oil change or the tires rotated. I’d also like to be notified about traffic on any planned routes I might be taking that day and beyond that, if there are errands that need running between meetings, schedule the travel path accordingly so I could accomplish more with perhaps fewer trips.

One voice command at any point during the day would give me a quick run down of any updates I should know about and allow me to tick off any tasks on my list that I’ve completed or reschedule them for later. I don’t want to be nagged throughout the day. I’d like to control when I check for information.

Certainly with the move towards home automation I ‘d like to be able to speak a few voice commands to control some aspects of my living environment. Then at the end of the day, I’d like to be asked what time I want to wake up the next morning, followed by a quick update of things I may need to know about before turning in. I’d like to do all of the above without touching a device.

Two keys would make this ideal personal assistant work for me. Always on listening would be one factor, combined with some sort of dashboard that would allow me to set parameters at some point.

Most of this kind of thing exists now but scattered over various App and service solutions. Google Now does a decent job of keeping track of some of my comings and goings, but I’d like to see all of this combined into one core experience. Both Siri and Google Now allow some good interaction via voice but that would need to improve. There shouldn’t be the need to tap and select Apps or services, simply speak commands.

I’d pay for this kind of service because I don’t want any sort of advertising intruding on my day. That and the ideas below would probably scotch the entire idea. I don’t want recommendations for things I might like. I want things tailored to what I know I need and the information that I request, not the information some algorithm thinks I might be interested in. I’d love to see any data grabbed throughout this process anonymized and not stored in some server bank somewhere with my name or other identifier on it. Would that defeat the purpose? Given today’s business models probably. But I’m dreaming so why not dream of a business model that doesn’t depend on the selling of data tied to an individual. Again, no recommendations and no advertising. If I’m looking for a recommendation I’d like to ask for one, not have one fed to me.

Unrealistic? Perhaps. Again, there would need to be changes in business models and improvements in voice technology for this to exist. Am I being lazy by not wanting to touch a device and start an interaction? Perhaps. But in the time before digital personal assistants you could get in all kinds of trouble if you touched a personal assistant the wrong way. Unless of course you were in the cast of Mad Men.

How about you? What would be your ideal digital personal assistant? Would you be willing to pay for such a service? Do you want recommendations or want to choose when you want something recommended to you? We’d love to know your thoughts.



  1. wade powell

    02/12/2014 at 8:37 am

    Mr. Crocker I agree with you whole heartedly.. To me I believe the things you are asking for is well in reach with today’s technology in the mobile industry. In your article you mention a device that would be able to tell you when your low on gas or an oil change etc… That can be simply done by the GPS signal in your phone… Most of the time its on and if the phone its self could tell the difference between walking and driving, based on route speed and model car you drive it could easily give you that information. Phones now run with enough ram, memory and processors that I truly believe there is no reason for your mobile assistant not to work off line. If there is no data at that point and time that you can use to talk back to servers it should be able to store your question for later and when it does get that information at an appropriate time it would ask would u still like to know….. Or I found the information you needed earlier do you still need it. All in all the only way I see this idea being pulled off is if the creator of the voice assistant made it universal not jst apple or android and that creator would have to be willing to licenses out the program so it could expand to smaller companies so things like Bluetooth or nfc scales would now be able to “talk” to the phone and receive your data. So like I stated in the beginning its not as farfetched as you think.

  2. Hildy J

    02/12/2014 at 3:14 pm

    The one thing I’d add is that I’d want my personal assistant to verbally walk me through tasks like a good interactive voice response system (e.g. “you entered 123, is that correct?”). Google Now is great when it understands me but it doesn’t verbally tell me what it understood and ask me if that was what I meant.

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