Carnegie Mellon University and Ericsson introduced a new mobile application called Blitzy to help make commuting a much more enjoyable experience. The initial version of Blitzy features many commuter-friendly functionalities such as voice and touch-based interactions, synchronization with Google Calendar and custom time management, intelligent carpool buddy recommendations, and a virtual community to encourage good, lasting commuting habits.
Dual modes of interaction is built into Blitzy. This enables support for not only the most commuters taking public transit, but also those that are already preoccupied during their commute, e.g. drivers in heavy traffic. Users have the ability to enter routes, view them, and navigate within the application all with simple spoken commands. This minimizes potential distractions and helps keep drivers focused on the road. Other advanced features are accessed via a mobile-optimized interface. The interface is resolution independent. Blitzy will work across many modern mobile phones as well as tablets. The goal was to bring this into the hands of as many commuters as possible.
The Google Calendar integration helps dramatically reduce the time it takes for users to start using Blitzy. Relevant events from the user’s calendar are imported and become viewable within the application to help users keep track of their busy schedules. By entering times of when you likely to leave your house and arrive at work, Blitzy will automatically suggest similar users for you to commute with. The application also supports different commuting schedules for each day of the week so users with varying schedules are well covered.
Blitzy is intelligent. It has a built-in recommendation engine that takes into account a user’s many preferences. Recommendations are based off of commute routes, commuting schedules, and your virtual community of friends. In order to help users better manage their connections, Blitzy introduces a new concept of temporary friendships. Connections made in the application always start off as temporary. Once the set time period expires, the connection is destroyed if not made permanent, thus requiring the user(s) to either make the friendship permanent or reject it. This removes unnecessary clutter and management from dealing with one-time associations such as a one-off commutes. Users will have the ability to convert the connection into a permanent one at any point.
Connections also drive another critical component of Blitzy. Users have the ability to easily rate those they are connected based on their experience with that connection. The aggregate ratings are shown on a user’s profile. Users who have a proven track record of being helpful will be marked as popular. Meanwhile, users also have a responsiveness rating to indicate how active they have been within the community.
For more details and inspirations behind this project, be sure to check out the video: Social Web of Things at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnB_fljyujE.