Mobile Social Networking Near You

Mobile social networks are being built using a variety of technologies. The aim is to provide information that is currently available in social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace in a different context: right where you are.

One such tool is Aka-Aki, a Berlin-based start-up that provides a small program that can be downloaded to cell phones. Once installed, the program uses Bluetooth to try to discover any nearby members.

If there are other users close by (within about sixty feet), the program can pull their pictures down from the Internet, along with any other information each user is willing to reveal.


(Loopt offers a social compass)

Another example of this kind of service is loopt, which offers to turn your cell phone into a "social compass." Based in Silicon Valley, loopt uses the location-based technologies that are built into cell phones to let you connect with other users who are nearby. You can exchange text messages and other information about your activities.

These services have an interesting science fiction predecessor. In a story appearing in his 1998 story collection The Best of all Possible Wars, Larry Niven writes about a dating system for bars:

If you see someone you like -" My fingers danced over the lighted symbols on the edge of the table. "This gets you a map. Locate where she's sitting, put the cursor on it. That gets you a display...hmm."
(Read more about the Monobloc dating system)

Via Crossing mobile phones with social-networking sites would help people find friends, and potential friends, nearby.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/26/2007)

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