Some recent research into technologies that create online friendships or links using real-world interactions, typically proximity. Any more in the comments please.
Poken is a physical USB key-like object where you touch other Pokens to share a business card or contact details then sync it over USB To your computer. It seems to use a proprietary wireless technology. If you want to know what’s inside, take a look at Hacking the Poken.
Bump is an iPhone and Android app that lets you exchange information by “bumping” your phones together. But what’s notable is how it works. From their FAQ…
“Q: How does Bump work?
There are two parts to BumpTM: the app running on your device and a smart matching algorithm running on our servers in the cloud. The app on your phone uses the phone’s sensors to literally “feel” the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then we just route information between the two phones in each pair.”
“Q: No way. What if somebody else bumps at the same time?
Way. We use various techniques to limit the pool of potential matches, including location information and characteristics of the bump event. If you are bumping in a particularly dense area (ex, at a conference), and we cannot resolve a unique match after a single bump, we’ll just ask you to bump again. Our CTO has a PhD in Quantum Mechanics and can show the math behind that, but we suggest downloading Bump and trying it yourself!”
Bracelets from Disney that allow kids to become online friends by touching the objects together then returning home and docking them over USB.
“Tink Friendship eBracelets bring girls and Disney Fairies characters together with the mere touch of a band powered by Clickables™ technology. The magic begins with the creation of a Fairy Friendship Kit online at www.PixieHollow.com where a girl can select her fairy avatar, a special message and a gift, then save it onto her Tink Friendship eBracelet to be shared offline with friends. When a girl touches her band to her friend’s and presses a button, her band will glow to confirm that a Fairy Friendship has been made no cords, no computer, just a touch of Pixie Dust! Just like the girls, their online fairies are friends too and can easily find each other in Pixie Hollow.”
A research prototype from Keio University where children are only able to accept online friends in a proprietary online social network by bringing their Petimo toys into physical contact. The toys also feature a screen and a wireless connection to allow other interactions and features.
Facechipz is a proprietary social network that uses the distribution of physical tokens with unique codes to create online friendships.
“The way it works is: parents register their child on the site for a one-time fee of USD 1. Kids purchase packs of five collectible FaceChipz tokens from select retailers and then register each token online by entering the unique code printed on the chip. Once the FaceChipz are registered, kids hand them out to friends. A receiver goes online and they also enter the chip’s code. The FaceChipz database then confirms the friendship, and the two people are linked.”