The no-item-left-behind app

November 5, 2016

People that know me know I’m rarely caught without my sunglasses (combination of light-sensitive eyes and a genetically Californian expectation of daily sunshine).

That’s why I’m often found with a pair of shades resting on my greying hairline, even at the risk of breaching protocol in business meetings (hey, I recall a guy who would bring his German Shepherd to every appointment).

The trouble is, I’m growing older, which in my case also means becoming more forgetful. If I set down my sunglasses — in a conference room, on a restaurant table, wherever — there’s a good chance I’ll leave them behind. My trail of forgotten umbrellas represent exhibit A. Then there was the time I left my backpack containing both passports, my macbook, and a wad of cash (though not my sunglasses) on a train. Mercifully, I committed this act of idiocy in Japan, so the risk of recovery of all items intact was zero.

There’s an app for that (?)

Surely there must exist an app for absent-minded types like me? I’ve searched, perhaps not exhaustively, yet I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

Over a year ago I discussed exactly this with an entrepreneur I respect who happened to share my pain. His suggestions inspired my theoretical wish list for such an app:

  • When I sit down for a meeting (or a meal out), I can designate a few items I’ve brought in with me, for example: umbrella, sunglasses, etc.
  • The app takes note my location at the time.
  • When I leave the meeting, the app rings my phone and flashes an alert on the lockscreen along the lines of “Got your umbrella?” The app is intelligent enough to detect if I’ve left the meeting definitively or just temporarily, based on some distance or time parameter (for instance, if I take a bathroom break, I probably wouldn’t be gone for long nor stray beyond a certain radius of the original location).
  • The most important requirement of such an app would be a ruthlessly minimalist interface. I could imagine, for example, three pre-configurable toggle squares for each object requiring a reminder plus a dismiss/clear button. Perhaps the dismiss button appears again on the lockscreen alert should I forget to deactivate the app.

Certainly this is technically feasible, no ?


posted in technology by mark bivens

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