Where product ideas live.
As a Product person, I have tons of product ideas that constantly run through my mind. A simple interaction here, a conversation there, one movie scene or even a line of literature, can spark a ton of different ideas. This ranges from ideas about iterations of existing products, to thinking up entirely new ones. I imagine this is the case with many other PMs.
While I can’t possibly build every single product idea I conceive, I can put them down on paper. It’s also worth stating that not every great product idea necessarily translates into a great business opportunity. In the instances where they do, they are sometimes better integrated as features of existing products or new products that leverage the distribution networks of existing companies.
That’s why I am starting the Product Playground. In the Product Playground – product ideas live! While these ideas are most times practical, they, however, are not bogged down by business model constraints or worries about delivering within tight timelines, coming up with marketing strategies and the thousand and one other things people in Product have to consider.
In the Product Playground product ideas just exist! So, here’s a rundown of my first product.
Product #1: XPired
A few months ago, I purchased a small tub of margarine. I didn’t use it regularly, but a few weeks ago, I decided to spread some on a few slices of bread. I’m quite conscious of expiry dates, especially for edible products. I checked the date and it was going to expire later that month.
What would have happened if I didn’t need to use the margarine until a few months later? I had no idea what the average shelf life of margarine was (4–5 months) so there’s no way it would have occurred to me to check.
It happened again. This time, with lip balm. I was applying a stick of lip balm I had purchased a while back, only to turn it over and see it had expired a month ago. The horror! In this instance also, I don’t typically know the shelf-life of lip balm, so the farthest thing on my mind was to check.
The same thing happened with cans of soda that a colleague had purchased in bulk. Did you know that the average shelf-life of soda is about 6 months? If you thought about it, there are so many dates and products to keep track of!
XPired is a mobile application that helps you keep track of expiry dates, so you never have to consume an expired product. It’s a consumer-focused mobile application built with Augmented Reality.
AR is perfect because it’s a great way to combine the physical world (the product you’re looking at) and the digital (relevant information about that product). You’ll understand a bit better later on in the post.
1. Add product: upon launching the Xpired app, the user will be prompted to add a product. Clicking on the ‘Add’ button will launch the phone camera. The user will take a picture of their product and complete a simple 4-field form (name, category, date of manufacture and expiry date) to add the product to the library.
2. Scan product: to retrieve information about a particular product, the user will be prompted to click the ‘Scan’ button. Doing this will launch the AR engine, which will then display relevant information about the product, including the product name and expiry date.
3. Dashboard: all products will be stored in the product library. This will be available via the XPired dashboard. Products will be sorted by sorted by date (expiring soon) and product category. The default order will be products expiring soon.
4. Notifications: as is expected, users will get notifications when expiry dates are close or shelf-life has been exceeded (see no. 6 below).
5. Delete product: users will be able to delete products that have expired, or that have maybe run out in the real world (e.g a bar of soap). For expired products, users will be prompted to delete the product digitally and physically — by suggesting ways of trashing it. Suggestions will take into consideration the best sustainable practices for getting rid of products.
E.g empty your bottle of soda down the drain and toss the can in the recycling bin for plastics.
6. Machine learning module: the final feature, will be the machine learning module which calculates average shelf life over time and suggests the expiry date based on this data.
Here’s a simple algorithm for this:
For subsequent products I’ll be featuring here in the Product Playground, I may go the extra mile and make some form of prototype available. This could be in the form of sketches, wireframes or low-fidelity prototypes.
P.S I had earlier tried to design the UI by first attempting to use Marvel and then Adobe XD. Apparently, design is not as easy as I had anticipated. If you’re a designer and are interested in mocking up a UI (just for fun of course) feel free to do so, all I ask is that you do share, I’d love to see it.
Did you enjoy reading this or do you have any thoughts about XPired? Let me know in the comments below.