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Now, smartphone app helps find friends in crowd


June 24, 2011 - Washington

Engineers have come up with a smartphone app that will enable users to find friends in a crowd, and make new friends who share similar interests.

The software, called eShadow, 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.

"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," he explained.

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," he stated.

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.

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.

ANI

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