Almost four years ago, I posted a piece called “The Ultimate App for Husbands” on my personal blog purely for fun. People got a kick out of it, so every year since then I’ve re-posted it around Father’s Day. I feel blessed to be a dad and doubly blessed to have an amazing father who taught me not to sweat the small stuff and to always have a sense of humor. So you here go— a re-post in time for Father’s day. Enjoy.
When shopping in a supermarket recently I overheard a man complaining about the complex rules established by his wife: “Get dye-free detergent, no other kind. Unless it’s on sale, then it’s ok to buy one with dye. But only if it’s Tide or All.” It made me think that this guy – and husbands like him – needs a database to store and manage all of these rules. And it would sure help to have the database be part of a mobile app so husbands can easily put these rules into action when confronted with vexing decisions like whether to buy lunch sized vs. dinner sized napkins and whether to clean the kitchen table off with Fantastic or a Clorox wipe. Husbands simply have to know the rules.
So drawing from my product development days I started chewing on how this app would it work and what it would do. Here are the high level requirements so far:
1. Voice recognition: So spouses can speak into the husband’s mobile device and verbally input rules while he is watching Monday Night Football.
2. Rules database: It comprehensively stores thousands of rules established in the household. This is the core feature.
3. Semantic/fuzzy search: Given the shoddy memory of husbands everywhere, natural language search helps him easily find “Clorox wipes” when all he can remember is “those slimy white things that are hard to pull out of the canister.”
4. A massive, crowd sourced taxonomy: Organizes the content of the rules which makes for fast and easy retrieval. Time is of the essence when you are putting the toilet paper on the holder and have to remember if it should roll over or under .
5. Conditional logic: Powering the app are a complex set of if/then rules for every possible contingency. Like IF the kids had breakfast cereal yesterday, do not give them cereal today. UNLESS there are fewer than 7 grams of sugar in the cereal and THEN it is ok.
6. Social profiles: What’s an app without a social component? This feature would enable the husband to create a profile so he can connect with other creatures of his ilk. Login would be with your Facebook credentials so you can immediately connect with a billion other husbands who are equally inept.
7. Location aware functionality:
* Geo-based user generated content: So husbands around the world can contribute (and find) locally relevant excuses for not following the rules. A star system would enable the community to highlight excuses that are especially creative and plausible. And users can search, sort and view excuses based on the profile characteristics other husbands. This way, a churchgoer in Alabama does not get advice from a swinger in New York.
* Location based push notifications – so when he is at CVS he can be prompted to pick up Q-tips (entered in the system while he was oblivious and watching Monday Night Football).
* Location sharing with randomized signaling – so any attempt to track his exact location can be foiled (unknowingly to the would-be tracker/spouse.
* Four Square integration – so he can check in at local establishments approved by his spouse (admin rights with tiered access needed). And if he goes there often enough he can save $5 at fine establishments like Chili’s.
8. Collaborative filtering/recommendations: Excuses are proactively recommended for the husband even before he screws up. This is based on an algorithm that determines the most effective excuses used by others who match the husband’s profile. In phase II, there would be an integration with the male equivalent of Siri, which would speak the excuse for the husband if he is too busy watching Monday Night Football.
9. Machine learning: unlike most husbands the recommendations get smarter over time.
I am still working on the rest of the requirements and welcome your feedback. What else should it do?