When was the last time you wanted to go to your favorite bar or restaurant but your boyfriend/girlfriend was out with their friends and your best friend was going out with that person you find crashingly, mind-numbingly, soul-wrenchingly boring? SocialRadar can help with that. If you so choose, your smart phone can aggregate data gathered from your social networks and tell you who’s in the room you just walked into and what they’ve been up to lately. This kind of inside information helps you strike up a real-world conversation with this person even if it’s someone you haven’t actually spoken to face-to-face in years. It could even help you get a date if you scroll through that cutie’s social networking data and find something you have in common. We sat down with founder Michael Chasen to talk about his vision for this new dimension of social networking.
So what is SocialRadar?
SocialRadar is a new innovative app for iPhone that gives you real-time information about the people around you. SocialRadar combines real-time social network information with geo-location data that is easy and fun to use. When you walk into a room, enter a restaurant, attend a conference, or go to an event, SocialRadar tells you who is there, how you are connected to them and what they have been up to.
SocialRadar unlocks the location information from your iPhone, listening to your social network chatter to deliver the important and relevant information you need to know about the people around you. And it does so while giving you full control over your privacy, enabling you to share information publicly, with friends only, anonymously, or be entirely invisible.
The underlying technology works by merging data from all of the top social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and Google+ with live location information from your iPhone to empower people to make smarter real-world connections.
What led to the idea of SocialRadar?
Over a decade ago, my co-founder Matthew Pittinsky and I created Blackboard because we thought that the Internet was going to fundamentally and positively change the way people teach and learn. At Blackboard, I visited hundreds of college campuses worldwide, coinciding with the rise of both social media and smartphones. I saw that the combination of mobile, social media, and location services has the potential to redefine how people meet and connect in person, which why I created SocialRadar.
How do you want to change your industry?
Right now a lot of the connections we make are online and I want to change the way people interact – bringing it back to the real world. We are disrupting social networking – the way people connect online and offline with one another. We are ultimately opening a door to the future, providing a new way to connect with people with actionable social intelligence. With one billion smartphones and two billion social network user profiles in the world, and with geo-location accuracy stronger than ever, the mainstream is ready for SocialRadar.
Is there anything wrong with the way it stands now?
No, but I believe there’s a better way. We use technology every day to make our lives easier and better. And through our smartphones we have powerful device which houses a lot big data and geo-location capabilities. No one yet, has been able to combine this information in a hyper-local way to help you connect with people in the real world or know where you friends are across your social networks. All of this information has been fragmented across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, and other networks. Now, SocialRadar’s advanced technology platform has the ability to aggregate a disparate a goldmine of data and combine that with geo-location information.
Why do you think it’s important to get updates from your social network in real time versus the old-fashioned way of just checking your various profiles over and over?
I think you just answered your own question. Technology is incredibly useful when it makes your life better and easier. That’s what we are about – giving you really useful data but also simplifying the way you interact with it. The ability to not only see who is around but what they’ve been up to on all of their social networks in one place gives you more time to focus on meeting people and having a meaningful conversation with them.
Do you think SocialRadar will fix the problem of expanding your network without any real follow through, making you more accountable for the people you’re connected to online?
Possibly, yes. SocialRadar will personalize your social network and bring connections to the real world. You’ll have the information to make the follow through in real life easy and relevant wherever you are. You can use it at the next meet-up to make a new connection or find that right person to do a business deal. Or, you could also rekindle those stale Facebook connections by being alerted when your old college buddy – who you haven’t talked to in years – is nearby & grabbing a beer.
What are the primary goals of SocialRadar?
Right now, we are focused on growing our own social network and making sure people have a terrific and valuable experience that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. We have already seen the size and power of social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. We believe no one has been able to effectively implement a hyper-local social network, we want to be the best at it.
Do you see this as more of an expansion of a person’s social network or better maintenance of it?
Ideally both. But we really see it as a way to enhance your social intelligence. SocialRadar does so much more than other social networking apps that are out there. It empowers you with real-time social intelligence, making you more informed about those around you. You decide whether or not to act on that information, and how to use it —i.e. to explore a business opportunity, to ask someone out, or simply to acknowledge a common interest. SocialRadar also makes it easy keep up with your daily social life by aggregating the data from all of your social networks and overlaying it with geo-location in a new, instantly accessible way.
How important was the beta testing stage of development and what was the biggest lesson from that phase?
We ran a successful beta of our app used by over 600 people, which gave us the insight to make SocialRadar even easier to use and make product feature enhancements. We learned that our users want a way to control their privacy making it as easy to change as flipping through the screens on an iPhone. When you open SocialRadar for the first time, it looks great and is useful but many months of hard work by our team were put in to make SocialRadar as great as it possibly can be.
What do you want the new definition of connectedness to be and how will SocialRadar play a role in that?
The past few years have been all about making social connections online. Companies rolled out features and new apps to help you build your sphere of friends and colleagues through online social networks. The future is about bringing these social connections to the real world. We believe that we are bringing social back to social networking.
What’s the future of SocialRadar?
When I am out telling people about our story, most agree that this type of technology will be in their lives 10 years from now. We envision SocialRadar to be more than just a single mobile app. The seemingly simple technology is actually a complex, versatile social intelligence platform and an open API. Soon, other companies will be able to use our technology as a foundation for other apps that require location-based functionality. In addition, we are also excited to stay on the cutting edge, by applying SocialRadar to wearable devices like Google Glass.
10-15 years ago people didn’t carry maps with them everywhere and yet since that technology is now pocket-sized, individuals use Google or Apple maps on a daily basis to get around. Similarly while social location technology isn’t commonplace yet, it is weird that you don’t know who is around you, and we believe SocialRadar technology will soon be used everywhere people go to see who is around them and how they are connected to them.