Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smartphone App Helps You Find Friends in a Crowd

27.06.2011
Can a smartphone app enable meaningful, face-to-face conversation?

Engineers are trying to find out, with software that helps people locate their friends in a crowd – and make new friends who share similar interests.

The software, called eShadow, makes its debut at the IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS) on Thursday, June 23 in Minneapolis.

It uses nearby wireless networks and smartphones’ wireless communication technologies to alert users that a friend who also uses the software is in the area – and gives directions to that friend’s location.

Dong Xuan, associate professor of computer science and engineering at Ohio State University, hopes that his research group’s software will also build bridges between strangers who share personal or professional interests.

At a business meeting such as ICDCS, for example, the software could remind a user of a forgotten acquaintance’s name, or help him or her make new professional contacts in the same area of research.

Since it enables face-to-face meetings, eShadow is a complement to online social networks such as Facebook, which excel at connecting people who are far apart, Xuan said.

“Today, online social networking has advanced dramatically, but our ability to meet people face-to-face hasn’t gotten any easier,” he said. “We want eShadow to close social gaps and connect people in meaningful ways, while keeping the technology non-intrusive and protecting privacy.”

The name eShadow comes from the idea that users input their interests into the software, and their smartphone broadcasts those interests to certain other users of the software – but only within 50 yards of the phone. So as users move, the broadcast follows them around like a shadow.

As to users’ safety, Xuan feels that, at least for some situations, meeting someone in person is safer than meeting them online.

“Online, people can steal others’ identity, or lie easily without detection. It’s much harder to pull off a masquerade in person,” he said.

Plus, users only share information which they want to share, and can observe potential friends at a distance before deciding whether to introduce themselves. Young people, Xuan pointed out, are especially comfortable with putting personal information online, and could readily adapt to using the software.

That said, people can be selective about who they wish to receive their eShadow signals. Users can select individuals from their phone’s contact list, and specifically de-select people as well.

“Say I’m from Ohio State, and someone else is from the University of Michigan, so I don’t want to talk to them. I just tell the software to ignore anyone who says they’re from Michigan,” Xuan laughed.

The researchers’ biggest challenges concerned efficient use of wireless communication, explained doctoral student Jin Teng. He and his colleagues wrote algorithms that let smartphones send and receive eShadow signals quickly, but without overwhelming a network.

In outdoor tests on the Ohio State campus, they measured how fast the software could detect users who were 20, 30, and 50 yards apart. They tested different numbers of users, from two to seven.

In all cases, the software was able to connect people within about half a minute – an average of 25 seconds for two users, and 35 seconds for seven.

Xuan noted that eShadow’s algorithms could be useful beyond socializing. Soldiers could use something akin to eShadow to locate each other on the battlefield.

Presently, the software works best when people move infrequently. Xuan and his research group are enhancing it to better accommodate motion. They are also extending it from Windows Mobile to support multiple smartphone platforms such as Android, and exploring opportunities for publicly releasing the software in the near future.

Other engineers on Xuan’s team include Xiaole Bai, an assistant professor of computer and information science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and Boying Zhang, Xinfeng Li, and Adam C. Champion, all doctoral students at Ohio State.

This research was funded by Xuan’s National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award, an NSF Computer and Network Systems grant, and an Army Research Office grant.

Contact: Dong Xuan, (614) 292-2958; Xuan.3@osu.edu

Written by Pam Frost Gorder, (614) 292-9475; Gorder.1@osu.edu

[Editor’s note: Xuan is traveling internationally until July 20, and is best reached by email or through Pam Frost Gorder.]

Pam Frost Gorder | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Smart Computers
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht AI implications: Engineer's model lays groundwork for machine-learning device
18.08.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>