New Smartphone App: Genius, Creepy or Both?

Today’s post is about a mind-numbingly simple and genius idea. So good, so simple and so potentially profitable, I have no idea how it doesn’t exist already. In fact, I’m pretty sure that maybe it does or that it did in the recent past. Maybe you can help me remember?

Pretty much everybody has a cell phone these days, and pretty much all of them are turned on all the time. Throw in the fact that a ton of them have GPS and you’ve got yourself an instant tracking device. Now, wouldn’t it be cool if the phones could talk to each other and realize when you’re close to a friend? Or that you’re close to someone who you might want to be your friend?

Of course, this sort of exists already with Foursquare. It’s easy enough to see when other people are checked in at the same location you are. But this mobile application goes one step further. When its turned on, it’s always on and always monitoring for people within 50 yards of you. And once it spots someone you’ve asked it to, it will locate them and direct you to them.

That’s the basic idea behind the app called eShadow that debuted at the IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems last Thursday. It was written by Ohio State associate professor Dong Xuan and his team of researchers.

Imagine the potential. You can have it only look for people you know. You can tell it to block certain people. You can upload likes, interests and hobbies, and have it alert you when those with similar interests are nearby.

It could get really creepy, but with the ability to block people and turn it off, it sounds like more fun than stalkerish to me.

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of it before. I mean, wasn’t there some sort of dating service where you carried around a small device that lit up when somebody you might be interested in got near? I’m sure it was a separate device – not loaded on a cell phone – and that it wouldn’t direct you to them on GPS. But I’m pretty sure it existed.

That’s the obvious use for this application to me. Looking for potential partners with the same interests who are single and/or perhaps just out for a good time. I can see OKCupid jumping onboard in a heartbeat.

Of course, there are actual useful applications as well. Researchers can use it at conferences to find people in their own field. Or military personnel out in the field of battle could use it to locate each other when shit hits the fan.

Actually, that’s where part of the funding came from and its real intended use – the U.S. Army.

But – as all other tech innovations – I’m pretty sure it’s going to be perverted for sex.

Anybody out there know if this was already tried for dating or not? Am I imagining things? And would you use this app? I’m pretty sure I would.


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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