I have been working into Innovation for a long time and part of my day job was trying to understand which side use our customers could make of the technology, product or service I was analyzing.
One of the golden rules is that users are always more creative than you. They will always find different ways to make an effective user of your technology, product or service. Sometimes the way you product is used is very far from your original concept.
Take Twitter as an example. The service was launched to allow the user to answer a simple question: “What are you doing?”.
Over time Twitter has evolved and now you can check if your plant needs water, you can monitor stocks, you can be alerted of calendar events or you can even unlock doors with a simple twit. I am sure that Twitter creators were not thinking about these applications when they conceived the service.
Yesterday night I was browsing the Apple application store and found an interesting application: Baby Monitor.
This is the description of the application coming from the developer web site:
Monitor your sleeping baby with this iPhone app. Simply place the iPhone near your sleeping baby, if it detects noise, it places a phone call to the number of your choice, you can then listen in for activity from your baby.
Isn’t this cool? Yes it is.
Ok. Let’s have a closer look at the application description:
- Place the iPhone near your sleeping baby. This is the original use of the application. The first thought I had is that I can place the iPhone in a meeting room, anywhere in my house, or in a bag that someone can bring with him.
- It detects noise and place a phone call. This means that I can receive a call whenever someone starts a conversation in the meeting room, or answer a phone call in the living room and so on.
- You can then listen in for activity from your baby. I can listen to conversations happening in any of the places I have described before.
We can now rephrase the original sentence:
Monitor your subject with this device. Simply place the device near the subject you want to monitor, if it detects noise, it places a phone call to the number of your choice, you can then listen in for activity from your subject.
Isn’t this the perfect description of a spy device?
As you can see this application was original built to help parents monitor their child when you are traveling but it can also be used for more nasty activities. I am pretty much sure that developers has were never thinking about this nasty applications.
Something you may want to consider when thinking about your next iPhone application.
Actually from a quick investigation I did the very same kind of application is available for almost any open Operating System mobile phone.