Kahuna Plans To Avoid “Wrist Fatigue” With New Algorithm For Smartwatch App Notifications

It sounds like the upcoming Apple Watch and other wearable gadgets are going to create a whole new avenue for apps to communicate with you — and that could get pretty annoying.

At least, that’s the assumption at Kahuna, a Sequoia Capital-backed startup that helps mobile marketers test and automate their push notifications.

I mean, excessive notifications can get annoying on your phone, too. But founder and CEO Adam Marchick suggested that with wearables devices, there’s a risk that (for example) you could go to the movies, turn off your phone like a conscientious moviegoer — but your smartwatch continues chiming “every five seconds” because you keep getting notifications.

You don’t want to be that person. As the person sitting behind you at the theater, I don’t want you to be that person. And if you’re an app publisher or developer, you don’t want to be the one annoying your users in similar situations.

That’s why, in Marchick’s words, Kahuna has extended its existing technology and “built some new algorithms on top of it to determine what type of messages are really watch-worthy.” There are few big pieces to Kahuna’s wearable algorithms, he added — first, a layer that automatically limits messages to prevent “over-messaging.” There’s also an element that looks at the urgency and timeliness of a message (“Does this have to be completed in the next 10 or 15 minutes?”).

Kahuna can also look at the behavior of individual users and help developers target their messages accordingly. So if you always order delivery between 5:30 and 6 on Tuesday evenings, and if it’s 6:05 on Tuesday and you haven’t made the order, then there’s a good chance you just forgot. That could be the right time to send a reminder, Marchick said.

The company says the algorithm will be compatible with the Apple Watch and eventually Android devices as well. While Marchick pitched this approach as relevant to the entire wearable ecosystem, he also suggested that the Apple Watch will be “the first wearable that gets to scale.”