Military software developer premiers social media app at CES
By Ben Coxworth
January 14, 2011
Given the wild success of Facebook and Twitter, it was no surprise to see various fledgling social media platforms being promoted at CES in Las Vegas. One that caught our attention was SMYLE, the creation of New Jersey-based Drakontas, a company with a background in providing geospatial tools for “warfighters and tactical professionals.” SMYLE is Drakontas’ foray into the world of civilian technology, but it remains big on something that is important to soldiers and cops: collaboration.
As with other social media services, SMYLE users can choose friends, chat, give updates and exchange media. When maps or other visual media are brought into the SMYLE space, however, they become real-time collaborative whiteboards – friends can annotate them, place icons on them, and otherwise mark them up for maximum information sharing.
Working in tandem with this feature is an emphasis on location tracking. Utilizing the GPS in members’ phones, SMYLE shows the location of friends in real time on on-screen maps. This allows users not only to know exactly how far away their “I’m almost there” friends are, but also lets people in unfamiliar settings post messages along the lines of “This is where I am, come and meet me.”
Using the whiteboard feature, one user could circle a building on a map, annotate it with a “Here’s where we’re going” note, and check their friends’ progress as they make their way toward it.
“It’s getting together for coffee, it’s finding out where your kids are when you’re going to a theme park,” said James Sim of Drakontas. “This tool is designed to be very simple and effective, so that all the people who want to interact – ‘Where am I? What are we talking about? Where are we going? What’s of interest to us?’ – is all there at their fingertips... This is not collaboration for collaboration’s sake, this is facilitated collaboration so that you can get on and do the things that you want to do.”
Work on the system began only last September. It is currently available for beta testing, via the SMYLE website.