Proposal for safer hyperlocal social networking
tl;dr Aura. A new kind of social network that uses Bluetooth low energy to project a user's digital self around him without using the internet. It works on Mars, on planes and requires no SIM card.
I waited for a long time to write this post. In summer of 2015 I tried out FireChat. It is a hyperlocal chat app that used Apple's multi-peer connectivity framework to transmit chat messages without the need for internet and more importantly without the need for devices to pair.
Electrified with the idea of direct mesh communication without the need to pair, I developed the idea of allowing people to have a kind of social profile projected to the outside world using this technology. Eventually this could even become a hyperlocal mesh network.
Some immediate field tests with the iPad and iPhone of a friend yielded promising results. Data could be transmitted without pairing devices across 95m when no obstacles were present.
Back then there was no reliable way of transmitting data cross-os and I found out that on iOS there was no way of reliably keeping an app running in the background. Although that is something users are right to not want it is absolutely necessary to make such an app usable. On android on the other hand there was no such thing as the multi-peer connectivity framework.
In addition I joined StyleLounge as a CTO in the summer of 2015. Taking over the team and contributing to a quick change of course towards agility, modern technologies and a scalable architecture was one of the bigger challenges of my life. The idea went dormant.
In late spring of 2016 I became aware that thanks to BLE (Bluetooth low energy) the thing was about to become feasible on mainstream mobile devices. I started peeking around technologies and a friend and former colleague, André König, helped me greatly to set up an app skeleton using the newest front end technologies (react/redux, electron, webapp). I highly value the discussions and his input on the idea we had during that time. Being a second priority after StyleLounge I put many weekends and evenings into it for the months to come.
Today, Aura, as I came to call it is still not finished. This post is a way of increasing the pressure on myself to finally get shit done :)
Check out the (equally unfinished) page I set up at auraapp.io.
My prototype can exchange data as intended, uses end-to-end encryption and allows editing of the profile
What's left - as the time of writing - some minor design finishes and getting the thing into the stores. #pressure #musthappen