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AutoConscience Update 3

AutoConscience Update 3

The site is a lot prettier now. More importantly it better presents the narrative of why someone would use AutoConscience.

We’re trying to remove the anonymity of drivers. So when you a do good thing on the road you get thanked. If you do something bad someone will be there to see it and call you out on it.

There isn’t a lack of witnesses to bad driving. It’s just that the social scorn for doing something wrong on the road doesn’t get communicated to the driver so he (or she) continues the behavior.

Research backs up the notion that the anonymity of motoring encourages bad driving behavior. If you’re interested to learn more check out Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (by Tom Vanderbilt). The book is an interesting exploration of the causes, and some consequences, of traffic.

On the development front the team is working away at both the app and the site. By tomorrow the site should be functionally complete with a report screen, log in page and community goals.

For the app we are now focusing on the gamification aspect to further encourage users to keep reporting. We’re looking for beta testers so if you’re interested drop us a note in the comments or via this link.

We’re still on target to have the app on the Google app store within this month.

AutoConscience Update 2

AutoConscience Update 2

Since last week we’ve had several iterations of the alpha version of the app. All of the basic functionality is in place but there’s still a lot of polishing to do. A lot of the work has to do with stitching all of the different parts of the app so that they all interact well each other.

Conceptually it’s a simple app but once you get down to brass tacks (What does this button do? How does the user get to his profile?) everything becomes a lot harder as every little detail is a deliberate decision.

Aside from the development of the app we’re also devoting a lot of time to getting the website up and running. In the ideal scenario our users would find value in both the app and the site as the site presents a lot more information than the app can.

Most importantly the site highlights Community Goals. Whenever someone reports, regardless if it’s an anonymous reporter or registered user, points are added to the Community Score. Once a certain score is reached a Community Goal is achieved. A lot of the Goals will be freebies for our users, such as free gas for 10 registered users.

The Community Goals will be our way of thanking users and they add further incentive to keep reporting. I would also like to add Community Goals which address the impact of motor vehicles – such as planting trees or sponsoring tune ups for PUVs so they won’t smoke belch anymore.

All our design decisions boil down to making users feel that their reports make a positive difference to traffic and contribute to a better driving experience for everyone.

We are still on track to have the app available for download via the Google Play Store sometime in October. The site will also need to have basic functionality by then as the app and the site go hand and hand. Crossing my fingers we can pull this off!

AutoConscience Update 1

AutoConscience Update 1

It’s been about 3 weeks since we pitched at Startup Summit. In that time the team has been hard at work overhauling the interface and actually coding the app.

The back end is somewhat complete and the focus this week has been the front end.

Along the way we were hit with some unsexy problems, the kind that you don’t read about in the glossy magazine write ups of startups. We had to replace one of the computers since its AMD CPU wasn’t playing nicely with Visual Studio (VS). The new computer then had to go through the usual Windows install and then VS install. The internet at the office is so slow that I had to bring the computer back home and download VS there. After the new computer was up and running some VS sync problems cropped up between our 2 work computers.

It’s basically third world development problems. I don’t think devs in the US or Singapore have to worry about slow internet or coding on budget machines.

Honestly I thought one could code on just about any computer but modern development these days isn’t like that. These IT problems are minor but annoying and really slow down the workflow of a small team.

We’ve settled on Android Kitkat as our default template OS for the Android version. This is based on the assumption that most Android devices in the Philippines are older models which will most likely be running Kitkat and not Lollipop or Nougat (definitely not Oreo).

Heck, my personal phone is a Moto X which still runs on Kitkat.

To be clear, our ambitions extend beyond the Philippine market. Crowded cities all around the world (eg. in Indonesia, China or South America) are potential markets for AutoConscience. But the Philippines will be our first market so we’re tailoring the app to suit Philippines users. If we do manage to expand overseas the app will evolve along with that change.

The current timeline is to have an internal working Alpha version in a week or 2. By October AutoConscience should be available for download from the Android Playstore.

I’ll leave you with pictures of the new interface and logo. I think they look like quite spiffy.

Philippine Startup: AutoConscience

Philippine Startup: AutoConscience

So the last business I set up an eternity ago (6 years to be precise) is chugging along nicely. It makes money. Guests are, overall, happy. But to be honest, Alcoves has become a little boring for me. Yes I’m extremely grateful that the apartments are renting well and I’ve poured a lot of hard work into the “buffet apartment hotel”. But I’ve been itching for awhile now to launch another crazy idea.

As such, I’ve gathered a small team and together we’re creating an app to help ordinary people fight Manila traffic. We want to build something that is so useful and simple that anyone on the road can use it to improve road conditions.

(Any idea that even attempts to alleviate traffic in Manila is foolhardy so I thought this would be an interesting challenge.)

The app itself is simple – it will allow you to report good and bad driving behavior. We hope that since drivers will be able to receive a lot of feedback, almost in real time, they will be encouraged to do more of the good driving (signalling, using proper lanes, not blocking the intersection) and less of the bad (swerving, smoke belching, not signalling, etc.)

AutoConscience (that’s our app) is still in development but we hope to launch it by October 2017. This early we’ve already gotten some interest – we were one of the finalists at the 2017 Startup Summit Philippines.

This is a new challenge for me – leading a team purely focused on a software product. I taught myself HTML and CSS in the past but do not consider myself a technical founder. So in short the odds are high that this will be a spectacular failure! At the very least it will be exciting.