I recently signed up to the fabulous travel service Dopplr, which lets you share your travel plans with friends, family and colleagues. While adding in a trip from the Gold Coast to my home town of Chinchilla, Dopplr got a little confused about my destination and suggested that the Chinchilla I was referring to was Chinchilla de Monte-Aragón in Spain.
When creating your account with Dopplr, you’ve got the ability to provide the service with a certain amount of information about yourself. Among the information is a setting for your home town, which I have set as the Gold Coast in Australia. Given that my country and home town are set, I think it is possible for the Dopplr service to make slightly smarter choices when a user isn’t explicit about a destination.
For this particular trip, I left on the 20th February and I’m returning on the 22nd February. I didn’t specify that this trip was not originating from my home town, so it should assume that I’m leaving from the Gold Coast. Given that Dopplr knows where you’re originating from (even if it isn’t your home town), it’d be possible for them to calculate a relative distance between it and any destination. If they cycled through each of the 12 possible matches for Chinchilla that they provided – they would have found that one of the Chinchilla’s listed was in the same country and state as my home town and was approximately 350km away. To a human reading that sort of information, it becomes immediately apparent that since I’m only on the road for three days, I’m leaving from the Gold Coast and there is a Chinchilla approximately 350km away that it’d be the sensible choice for the destination.
I think that small improvements such as the above are one of the key types of enhancements to a product that really sets a service apart from its competition.