I was an early adopter of Klout and a big proponent of the idea that being an influential person in different field could net some type of reward -- especially since social media often is just a microphone with a lot of free advertising going out and not a lot of return.
Klout perks definitely have a lot of potential, but I have to say that a lot of them are ho-hum at best. I have gotten $20 off certificates (with substantial purchases), free hair gel, face cloths and lotion, and even beta testing invites, but few of these were really anything I would want, use or even pay for. That was, until I got a perk offering me a loaner Chevy Volt for two and a half days where the vehicle was dropped off and picked up from my house.
I would have had to pay $100+ from a rental car service and $250+ for a Zipcar for that amount of time and in San Francisco, anyone without a car knows how great it is to get your hands on some personal wheels for two days to do all the errands you usually put off until a friend offers to take you to Target or run you to the Post Office across the city from you.
And, while I was excited to write a car review of this vehicle for all my tech readers, I found one particular element of this hybrid vehicle to stick with me the most. That would be the gamification that is embedded in the car dash board control system.
Gamification is a topic that I read about, write about, and hear new innovations of all the time and here I got to see it in action, in an application that I think rises gamification to the level of a tool to improve your way of life (not just a way to get badges and keep you from quitting a task).
While a lot of gamification tools are used to get people to use an enterprise software or to get users to "like" a post, the Chevy Volt has taken the tools to improve driving quality and energy efficiency. On the car dashboard I instantly noticed a green orb with leaves on it and its motion along a graph.
This indicator allows drivers to optimize their braking and acceleration by showing them just how energy inefficient it is. As I was driving down city streets with their many obstacles (pedestrians that refuse to obay the rule of the road and parallel parking cars abound), I found my competitive nature working hard to keep the Green Latern-esque orb in the optimal central location.
Working with the green orb on the dashboard, the navagation system also includes two circles with 100% possible goal for both the driving effeciency and the AC use in the car. Drivers are now bring given the tools to improve their awareness of how a car works and gives them goals to work toward.
Having driven my share of gass-guzzling cars where I am playing the guessing game on whether I am getting my fair share of driving from the latest tank of gas, this is a great progression and improvement on the driving experience. Frankly, I would like to see these price-aware, energy-efficient and life-changing applications of gamification in the future and it makes me really want this type of gage on all my electronic devices.
Sadly, I was never able to get above 83% driving efficiency but I am confident that if I had the car for a few weeks and did more highway driving than city driving my perentage would have faired better -- at least I hope.