Thursday, the 17. June 2010, 12:54 by
Picture this: a young woman goes to a party. She doesn’t know anyone but it’s fine because she has her mobile with her. A few clicks and she accesses the profiles of a dozen people at the party, including their pictures. She’s in luck: two of them turn out to be friends of friends. She messages them and they start to chat.
Or this: an entrepreneur is at a conference. He is on the lookout for a new marketing director. Within minutes he has identified ten people in the hall with the right CV, two of whom are looking to change jobs. His mobile tells him one of them is standing 20ft away. That evening, a record of all the people he has met is automatically displayed with their profiles on his home computer.
This is not science fiction – it is the future of social networking and it is just around the corner. After the explosion in internet-based social networking (MySpace, Facebook) doing the same thing in real life instead of in front of a computer became an obvious next step. Much of it is already happening on a small scale as dozens of companies seek to exploit social networking on the go.
So how does it work? The key is the coming together of internet-connected mobile phones and location or proximity technology.
You can browse the internet quickly and easily on most new phones. Phones know where they are, thanks to in-built GPS satellite technology or triangulation from mobile phone masts. They can then tell if other phones are in the same area. Bluetooth short-range radio technology is also standard on most mobiles and with this phones can pick up the presence of other Bluetooth-enabled phones within about 20 metres.
Effectively, by linking these two developments, your phone can tell if someone is near you and can access lots of information about them – the perfect ingredients for real social interaction.
The possibilities are endless. Can’t ever put names to faces? Want to check the background of that chief executive officer so you can remind him that he owes you a favour? Want to avoid all accountants/lawyers/journalists? Keep seeing that handsome man at the bar and need a common interest to get the ball rolling? All these scenarios are being solved by the new wave of mobile applications.