Home Toys Article
- April 2005 -
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MAKE A DASHBOARD YOUR FAMILY CAN COMMUNICATE WITH
The other day my wife and I were stepping out of our son's school after having our parent-teacher meeting. Another lady was exiting at the same time. At the door, her husband was coming in with a bewildered look on his face, saying "Honey, I thought you said it was at 1:40!". The woman had a resigned look on her face when she said "I said it was from 1:20 to 1:40!".
For families with younger children, life is just an endless stream of activities merging into one another. Who among us hasn't forgotten an important activity or social event due to some kind of miscommunication? With working lives as busy as they are, school and extra-curricular activities, and social obligations, there ought to be a better way to manage life than the classic wall calendar and day planner that most of us use.
This is supposed to be the information era, isn't it? Everyone has a cell phone and in many cases more than one PC at home - not to mention at work. Many people also carry personal digital assistants (PDAs) that were supposed to help with this!
The fact is, most people just find it too cumbersome to use PC-based computers or PDAs on a regular basis to coordinate household activities. The applications available until now have not addressed all the issues that would make people prefer electronic methods to their paper-based counterparts.
The Internet Home Alliance concluded in a late 2003 study that the lack of a good family calendaring solution is preventing Digital Home manufacturers access to the biggest potential opportunity: the so-called Family Ecosystem.
Enter Mediabee. Founded in late 2002, our company, headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, has been singularly focused on breaking the barriers to adoption of electronic solutions for home calendaring. Recently, in late December 2004, we released our software as a free download. As of this writing in March 2005, it has been downloaded over 16,000 times and is now used by people throughout the U.S and in 65 countries.
Some of the key features that enable Mediabee's adoption are discussed below.
Rich Graphical Interface
Non-technical people especially can relate to our wall calendar interface very easily. Take a look at some of the screenshots readily available on our home page and I'm sure you'll agree.
Real-Life Planning Tools
Mediabee uses a simple English-like interface to make entries, rather than drop-down combo boxes typically seen on electronic calendars. People tend to use paper tools because it's easy to make a list on paper and paper is a very forgiving medium. Mediabee makes it easy for people to make lists almost like they would on paper. List entries are automatically transformed into appointments or to-dos for the appropriate person.
Most calendaring programs are personal tools that also enable collaboration with others. Mediabee is especially made for one person to easily coordinate the schedules of many - much like the household organizer needs to do. (In our nationwide survey of 400 women, 87% of household organizers are women.)
Collaboration & Community
Most people find it burdensome to make entries on the calendar. There are many reasons for this - starting with how long it takes to make an entry, for example. In our consumer research, the ideal calendar should require a minimum of entries.
To facilitate this, Mediabee designed the system such that even non-technical people could easily publish and subscribe calendars to and from their community. Another unique feature is how easily you can permit friends and family to write directly into your calendar!
Access from Anywhere
What good is a calendar if it's stuck on your fridge and you need to make an appointment with your dentist while you're at the office? Mediabee provides multiple ways to get to your home calendar from anywhere - with your phone or a browser.
The net result is that women, who are the primary household organizers in 87% of U.S. households, have found Mediabee helps them to run their families better than any other solution that currently exists.
Mediabee has reinvented calendaring, which has been stuck in standards that were established in the early 90s. To enable wide distribution, Mediabee is giving away the basic software. Mediabee will derive revenues by charging subscription fees for certain services, like web-based access and phone-based access, as well as from corporate sponsorships.
Mediabee Family Dashboard is made for computers running Windows XP or Windows 2000, although a Linux- based version is in the works. A multimedia demo is available by visiting http://mediabee.com. The software can also be downloaded there. There is also a thin client version that allows multiple computers to access the same central information, so you can use it from multiple rooms in the same household.
There are now many small offices, non-profits, churches, school administrators, that have also found Mediabee to be a great shared calendaring solution - especially for the price.
For digital home installers, Mediabee's software represents a great new opportunity to set up homes with flat-panels or tablets that women will be driven to purchase. (In our nationwide survey of 400 women, we discovered that this is one "gadget" 81% of women wanted.) The basic software is a free download, but we are willing to customize it to your requirements for a nominal fee.
Saro Saravanan is the founder-CEO of Mediabee and proud parent of two children, Nikila, 11 and Vijay, 9. Ever since he installed Mediabee for his wife, Poornima, they don't argue about missed appointments anymore.