A voice journaling app, Maslo is designed to encourage people to talk to themselves as a colorful, animated orb prompts them with questions (via text) to get them talking about their day. Cristina Poindexter and Ross Ingram see their place in the market as somewhere between products that encourage mindfulness and those that claim to be virtual psychologists.
The design and branding was done with an eye toward getting people to feel comfortable talking to an AI. Maslo recently launched a research project to get feedback from early users about their experiences, and sat down with us to chat about what they found.
On the impetus for the project
POINDEXTER: My co-founder and I were both previously at Google, and we’d both seen that there was this emergence of people interacting with tech in brand new ways. So it started us down this path of, “how can technology help us understand what's going on in our internal world?” And thinking about how technology, through a voice interface, can actually allow you to gain personal insights that are helpful for you to grow as a human.
How user research has helped chart Maslo's path
The biggest gap in the product today is the value proposition. We needed to zero in on what people wanted to do with Maslo—whether that was rediscover mindfulness, or strength, or confidence—and understand if they’re making the connections between the journal and doing those things already, or if we need to actually step in and help guide them and think about how we would do that.
What we heard was a lot of people say that if they hadn’t vocalized their thoughts to Maslo, they wouldn’t have said it at all. That was pretty powerful.
Via dscout, we asked Maslo users to tell us, over the course of a week, if they felt like they were getting a unique benefit from using the tech, or if they could have gotten some of these benefits other ways. The answers that we got really clarified for us what our beachhead market is, and what value people are finding from using the product today, in beta.
On future uses and applications
Our vision is that in time, we’ll build up the technology behind it so it will understand your voice, and the people, places, and things in your life, and ask personalized questions. Say you had a rough day at work last week, and you're processing that to get it off your mind.
This week, it should be able to ask, “This was on your mind last week. What are you thinking about it now? Are things better or worse?” Just like a friend would continue that conversation with you. By nature, I think that would include some type of dialogue, and possibly not always through a voice interface. AI is also really good at tracking patterns, and those are capabilities we’re really excited about.