Milestone 4

We're pursuing Glimpse

What is Glimpse?

Glimpse lets you stay connected with those you love by enabling you to get 4-second video glimpses into their life. Check out our previous milestones for more context.

Why are we pursuing Glimpse?

The results of our WoZ testing pointed us towards Glimpse not Quack for two big reasons.

  1. 4-second glimpse videos are a more effective medium for impression-based communication than 10-second quack video chats
    • Quack is about enabling brief face-to-face moments. The focus of the user is looking at the other user's face and talking to them; therefore, the user doesn't put much thought into the video being streamed to their friend. As a result, the videos were less rich and conveyed less information about the person, her surroundings, etc. Videos were just faces of people saying things like "hello how are you".
    • Glimpse is about recording a video message for someone; it's performative. Users used glimpses to deliver an animated hello, to perform a goofy expression, and to show off things around them-- their location or a specific item. Users found more and more creative uses for Glimpse videos than Quack videos because the focus of the experience was creating a video.
    • Because of the performative dimension and the diversity of uses for glimpse videos, glimpse videos, although shorter than quack videos, have a greater expressive power and is therefore more compelling.
  2. Synchronicity places a burden on the user.
    • Having two users be "online" at the same time required co-ordination, set-up, etc. It requires attention, effort, and shared motivation. That's a lot to ask for something that's supposed to be a low-friction, quick, frequent communication act.
    • During testing, many attempts to try to schedule a "quack chat" failed. Asynchronous communication doesn't fail as explicitly as synchronous communication; maybe it's just taking a while for the person to notice the message, for example.
    • In user studies we observed great opportunity in enabling communication between people with different levels of motivation for staying in touch (e.g., mom-college kid communication). Synchronous communication requires both parties to be active participants and both parties to be motivated at the same time. This model doesn't work well when the two parties do not share the same motivation.

What does our functional prototype prioritize?


Our WoZ testing only worked on desktop devices (because of HTML5 MediaRecorder limitations). This had two crucial implications:

  1. It limited the space of things you could get/send a glimpse of, both because laptops are bulkier (harder to take videos of things around you) and because people use laptops in sedentary settings, not when they're on the go and seeing the interesting things that glimpse requesters want glimpses of. Overall, it reduces the freedom of the user providing a glimpse and therefore also the range of things a glimpse requester can receive.
  2. It dramatically reduced the spontaneity of the interaction. If glimpse videos are to be spontaneous and frequent, it can't be a hassle to participate. Restricting the glimpse medium to laptops increases the burden on the user providing the glimpse: If you get a glimpse request from someone, you have to remember to respond the next time you're at a laptop. One more thing to remember; one more to-do. Making the job harder for the glimpse provider is the last thing we want to do. They're the ones who provide the richest part of the interaction; they're the ones making the glimpse requesters happy. And in asymmetrical communication use cases (e.g., mom-college kid), the user more interested in communication (e.g., mom) is going to be more likely to request a glimpse, so the less-motivated user (e.g., son) will be the glimpse provider. To make this communication work, the less-motivated user has to have a really easy job.

Our team does not have a background in mobile, but this feature was too significant to ignore. So we're off to become semi-competent mobile developers!

What else did you learn from WoZ that you will be implementing?

There are a few features that are "no-brainers" based on our WoZ testing.

What's your implementation status?


We have a functional iOS app. We can create accounts, request, send, and receive glimpses.All features mentioned above are implemented. Limitations are as follows:


We got worried about our ability to deploy the iOS app to a large number of test users. There's a delay in getting apps approved on the app stores, and getting users outfitted for alpha testing on TestFlight is quite involved. Since this project is moving quickly, we decided putting all of our faith in iOS was too much of a risk. Android applications are significantly easier to distribute for testing, so we've begun developing for Android as well, as quick and dirty as possible. The app is not yet fully functional. (We're missing the ability to record and upload the glimpse, which is pretty crucial...)