The rise of proximity engagement

Update (2013-10-14); this has been implemented and will be available on Google Play by the end of the year. For those interested; the source code is available on GitHub – more information can be found on its site: www.findaplaymate.net.

Up until now, technology has isolated individuals, forcing its users to work with machines rather than people – but thanks to the advancements in technology we are starting to see a trend where technology is becoming more natural and complementing our human (social and active) traits rather than conflict with them. There is still a lot of work to be done, especially with how we interact with a smarter environment/devices (ambient intelligence), which will take time, but there are two components of this that will become mainstream within the next few years – that is Personal Area Networks and a standardised Proximity Service Layer. Personal Area Networks are networks that connect personal smart devices e.g. your watch connecting to phone etc. Bluetooth 4.0 being the ideal facilitator for this. The other, Proximity Service Layer, refers to smart devices offering services to other devices in close proximity (very similar to PAN’s and possibly leverage the same technology). The big drivers for this are Wifi Direct for h/w and AllJoyn (from Qualcomm) and Chord (from Samsung). For this to become a reality a open standard (mimicking the success of the web) needs to be formed.

Bottom line – devices will start chatting to each other like girls at a dinner party.

Inspired by this trend and the silence on the tubes we have decided to prototype something (working title) we like to call ‘Lets Play’ – the idea is that the service will run in the background of your smartphone looking for other ‘Lets Play’ peers. Once peers are found, each device will exchange their app catalog – (app catalog make up of apps that have been registered and support some form of proximity support e.g. multiplayer games via Bluetooth or Wifi). The users will be notified of all matching apps allowing them to engage in a game of scrabble whilst on their way to work.

The following diagram describes a typical user journey:

lets play - user journey v1

The prototype will be build for Android and use Samsungs Chord framework (to enter in the competition).