magnetU searches for nearby social matches
By Ben Coxworth
December 6, 2011
When I was younger and cared a lot more about being "cool," I would sometimes wear T-shirts with the names of my favorite rock bands on them. While this was partly just to show off my supposed musical enlightenment to the world, it was also in hopes that some like-minded person (preferably female and attractive) would see it and strike up a friendship with me. Well, magnetU is sort of like a high-tech band T-shirt. The wearable radio frequency device wirelessly transmits your personality profile to the world as you roam the streets, ever on the lookout for another magnetU transmitting a compatible profile from a nearby person. Should that occur, both devices will alert their owners that a potential social match is in the vicinity.
Users can load the magnetU with a profile of their choice via their computer, depending on where they're going. A profile that emphasizes their musical tastes, for instance, might not be entirely appropriate if they're looking for people with an occupation similar to theirs, at a conference. That profile can be created from scratch on the magnetU website, or an existing profile from a social media network such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can also be used.
The iPod Shuffle-sized device is then donned by the user, and taken out into the world. Should it and another magnetU detect one another's signals, and the profiles are sufficiently similar, both users will be alerted via a message on their paired mobile phones. Depending on how much the profiles have in common, the social match message will have a rating of either "Attractive," "Hot" or "Red-Hot." The two users can then either connect online later on, or if they have included real-time contact information in their profile, can hook up on location (although personally, I like the idea of them just coming up to everyone around them, asking "Is it you?").
Once users do meet in person, they can simply tap their devices together in order to add one another to their social network, or to electronically "exchange cards."
After two users have been added to one another's networks, each of them will be alerted to the matches that the other one makes, within a range of several hundred meters - should they wish, they can then contact that new person themselves. In this way, the range of each of their devices will be extended beyond the distance that their radio signals can reach, as each user is essentially acting as a router for other people in their circles.
According to the magnetU website, the device should be launched in select cities and college campuses within the next several weeks. It should then become available to the general public, at a price of US$23.97.