One of the great themes among New York’s location based start-ups is that the services, which rely on the mobile web, generate a lot of their real value offline, by encouraging people to try new things and change their routine behavior.
Sonar.me, which is one of six finalists for the $50,000 prize at this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, focuses on bridging the gap between cyberspace and what co-founder Brett Martin calls affectionately, the “Meatspace”.
“Your product has to get people laid or get people paid. I think there are lots of obvious applications, at work, at bars, dating implications are implicit use cases,” he said in a recent interview. “I want to bridge the gap between people and the people near them. If you introduce context, you reduce the friction.”
Sonar draws on public data from services like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to figure out who at a crowded party or conference is connected to you and likely an interesting person to meet IRL.
Sadly the running headline on a lot of sites has been “Cool or Creepy?”, which seems like a typical Luddite reaction. After all, the service only works with publicly available information about users who are consciously declaring their location. It just goes the extra mile to give some personal context and value to this data.