Kieran Fraser: Push Notifications that Prioritise Digital Wellbeing

12 January 2021
Kieran Fraser: Push Notifications that Prioritise Digital Wellbeing

Dublin, 19 August, 2020: 23 minutes is the average amount of time it takes us to refocus after an interruption. How many interruptions a day do we get from push notifications lighting up our phones because of social media, emails, or apps reminding us to use them? 80 is the average per day and the team at EmPushy thinks it’s far too many. This leads to poorer digital wellbeing, resulting in less effective notifications that are bad for both the sender and receiver.

Last week, ADAPT Radio host Donal Scannell interviewed Kieran Fraser, the Technical Lead of the EmPushy team, and learned all about the company’s motivations, progress, and future plans. This episode is available on our SoundCloud channel.

The EmPushy project seeks to humanise push notifications with AI and user-inputted data, making them a much less intrusive part of the user experience. The AI software will learn user habits over time to determine when they are most receptive to a notification. No more unrelenting group chat messages as you’re trying to fall asleep!

How this would work would be that it would create a cache of notifications during the times it recognises you are usually busy and not looking at your phone, say while you’re in lecture. Once the programme sees that you’ve left the college and are heading home on your usual route, it determines your commute to be a good time for you to review your updates from earlier in the day. There are many points of data that the AI will use to determine importance including who the sender is, the subject, or your and the sender’s locations .

Since on average we receive over 80 push notifications per day, the majority of which are ignored, this leaves app developers with a CTR (click through rate) typically in the range of 2%, with the market leaders claiming up to 15%. This results in poor outcomes for both the marketers and users who receive them. EmPushy’s intelligent push notification engine provides personalised notifications to the right user at the right time. This approach has been proven to improve CTR to 30% which in turn significantly increases revenue and engagement.

On top of this, EmPushy notifications can be autonomously generated, thus saving time and marketing costs for the business. In addition, EmPushy notifications will minimise unsubscribes and lost touch-points, ensuring the value provided is more stable over time.

Aside from the hours and hours of time we lose when we get distracted by our phones, there are many more issues being discovered associated with digital health. Nomophobia is a new term that describes the fear of being without your phone. We’ve all felt it at some point: sitting down on the bus to work and realising you left your phone on the charger. Then there’s the phantom vibration phenomenon, where we think we felt a notification buzz in our pocket, but it turns out to have been imagined.

Empathetic push notifications, hence EmPushy, could be a step in the right direction to addressing some of these issues, especially given the decreasing age at which children are becoming accustomed to mobile devices.There are other companies out there using AI to develop smart notifications, however, are they really smart for the user if they’re not built with a level of empathy as well?

EmPushy is headed by Kieran Fraser, with Arthur Cagney as the Business Development Lead, Shridhar Kulkarni, as the Research Engineer, and Professor Owen Conlan as the Principal Investigator and Advisor. They are funded by the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund.

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