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 Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers
20.07.2018 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

nachricht Study suggests buried Internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise
18.07.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>