Many years ago, my father used to say to me that he could work with any man — as long as they had principles. Not simply a desire for money, but a desire to make the world just a little bit better. Where he saw principles, I see values.
As a product “guy”, I can say the same about amazing products – ones that adhere to a set of values or principles and that use those principles to drive choices that are made with them in mind.
Here at OWLR, we have been following a few principles that we adhere to because it helps us create the best product for you. Some of these values are listed below – we’d love to know if you feel that we are delivering on them.
It’s Yours, Not Ours
We have read the articles about hackable IP cameras and especially the baby monitors that are indexed on search engines. We have seen the many hacks that have been reported in the news having to do with lost personal data because of cyber break-ins. We ourselves are concerned with the fact that Internet-of-Things, which is supposed to be increasing our sense of security, is often exposing unexpected vulnerabilities and weakening the very thing it was designed to do.
One of our original principles was to ensure that your passwords for your cameras are YOURS and yours alone. We do not want them and do not believe we should have them. Yes, our apps have them on your phone, but we never send those passwords to our central server. It’s Yours, Not Ours.
This principle extends to video that we will (in the near future) support for storage. The encryption of the video on our servers will be with your encryption key – we will not view it – we will simply receive it, encrypt it, and leave it for your phone to view it. From your phone, you will be able to download it, share it, send it to the police or to whomsoever you choose. The video is Yours, Not Ours.
It’s About the Little Things
Back in the Nineties, “Point of No Return” created an interesting catch phrase – “I never did mind the little things”. Here at OWLR, we do.
We spend a great deal of time figure out the most effective use of your time with our app. Our design is to optimize what you may be using our apps for. For the parents who are using it for baby monitoring. For singles who are concerned about who is ringing/knocking on the front door. For people who want to have an eye on their personal property. For people who want to make sure Grams is okay or the kids are the ones banging about in the house.
The little things include consistent design, buttons large enough to hit easily, attention to bandwidth and battery usage, colors that match and do not take away from the purpose at hand – giving you the view you want and need. We work hard at the little things that you will might never notice (e.g., network communications, speed of video processing, etc.), but we continue to work to improve them. It’s About the Little Things.
Have Fun / Have a Laugh
One of the first arguments we had in the company when I joined was about what the popup content should say. On one side, we considered doing the unobtrusive method of being absolutely pragmatic and practical like, when your password did not work, the popup would say “Incorrect Password – please try again.”
On the other, one thing that always struck me as silly was how humor (or ‘humour’ as my team would like me to spell it out) was not found in most interactions. I remember the Beagle Bros Software that used iconography of the 1920s to provide a bit of pizzazz to incredibly “exciting” products like disk drive cleaners. So, to have a bit of fun, and to remind people that mistakes are always possible and not terrible to behold, we added a bit of a funny voice to our popups and interactions.
And, to answer the question, “Is Johnson McJohnson real?” well – come by the office just before submission to the App Store or the Play Store and see what happens to the team then. Have Fun / Have a Laugh.
Be the User / Two Ears, One Mouth
One of the challenges about doing software, if you have not done it, is to understand how you – the user – uses our software products. Oh, yes – you can send us emails about the problems and the joys you have with the product, but sometimes, the person coding the software might not be connected to the problems that you the users have.
Today, we try to be more like you – the user. We spend time with cameras in our homes and the uses you have for them. Heck, we have almost 70 cameras in our office window as I type this post out. And we spend so much time thinking about what makes the product work for you – and for us. We had a terrific response to our Flying Beta Program which gave us a great number of responses to help us better understand your needs. And we continue to take in your needs and concerns.
We are a small team, but the priority of listening to you – to better understand and become you, the user – matters so much that we intentionally put the Feedback button in the main menu. That Feedback options is so you can ask us for help. To complain. To extol. To connect. And we are trying to get you a response as quickly as we can, but please understand, we now have almost 200K installs – and your love is overwhelming (Hey Johnson, did the humour come through?).