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Published on June 30th, 2013 | by Shashwat Pradhan


The Contextual World is Here

Since the last few years mobile apps have undoubtedly become an integral part of our lives. Also the complexity of mobile applications has been growing substantially. With exponentially increasing sensors, wearable devices, data from social media, location based technology and data storage innovations applications are now adapting to the users context. Like for example in the movie theatre a phone can silence itself using geofencing or the map app can suggest indoor places when its raining. These are just simple examples to begin with.

The last decade has been heavily devoted towards connecting applications with your social world. Now we see contextual apps bridging your social world to your contextual world. The life cycle of a contextual app is: Sense – Understand – Adapt.

Sense: Passive collection of contextual information. (eg. Theatre geofenced)

Understand: Prioritisation of activities based on context and triggers. Passive/active triggers. (Silent phone needed)

Adapt: Actions based on contextual triggers. (Vibrate mode)

To illustrate how contextual apps work, I shall try and share an example. At ReFocus Labs we have been working on ARKick. Your personal Augmented Reality, contextual, social sidekick app. Utilising context we aim to make augmented reality apps actually feasible for day to day use. So ARKick follows a similar app lifecycle.

1. Sense: It not only senses physical parameters like your location and direction orientation but also studies the context through your social world.(Facebook currently)

2. Understand: ARKick understands the weather, location, temperature, time, day and your favourite places through facebook.

3. Adapt: ARKick uses its sidekick engine and adapts the place suggestions according to all the parameters it used to adapt and gives the user information in the Augmented Reality World.

ARKick is a hybrid (combination of native and HTML5)app and will be available for Android, BlackBerry 10 and iOS in couple of months.

Robert Scoble has been working around the contextual side of technology as a tech evangelist for a while now and will be soon even launching his book ‘The Age of Context’ with Shel Israel on October 1st.

The Contextual World through the eye’s of Robert Scoble(with his Google Glasses on):

Q. What are some of your favourite contextual applications?

Apps like Sherpa on Android, Atooma on Android, Google Now, Tempo on iOS, etc.

Q. Which platform do you think has an edge in the contextual world(with even BB10 launching APIs for contextual apps)?

The best platforms? Apple and Android have a dramatic lead because of developer support. Blackberry and Windows are way behind and, because of wearable computers, like Google Glass, that add much better information for contextual computing, Google sure seems like it’s in the lead. Android is more open, too, so the contextual apps are generally better and Google, with Google Now, is showing the way.
Q. How will (the already inadequate)battery life of the device suffice in the contextual world?
Battery life will continue to be an issue, but most app developers say that they can work fine while only using 5% or less of your day’s battery (I’ve noticed most of the contextual apps have gotten a lot better on battery life lately). As chip manufacturers build in contextual systems (Qualcomm is working on that) the battery usage will go way down too).
For more information regarding the contextual world you should follow Robert Scoble on his blog: or his social networking accounts where he is really active and shares tons of valuable information.

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About the Author

Shashwat Pradhan is a mobile developer, entrepreneur, UX prototyper and Security Consultant. He works on marketing and a tech journalist, also an underground DJ. You can also subscribe to his updates on:

One Response to The Contextual World is Here

  1. Jonathon says:

    Great article, really looking forward for more details on this and Robert’s book. Cheers!

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