Sonar: A Social Scanner

One thing that’s fun about living in a small town is running into people you know. I remember in college it began to take on a small town feel. By the third or fourth year I could walk anywhere on campus and find familiar faces. Eventually I had to start changing my route to get to where I was going. This all changes once you graduate.

Many people get a job and move to larger cities. Meeting up with friends becomes a planned event. It’s no longer the norm that you’d run into folks you know when you’re out and about. Sure it happens from time to time but not nearly as often. There’s something that’s missed when your ventures into the world are met with anonymous faces, few that you know. This no longer need be the case. Introducing Sonar (found a It’s a new geolocation iPhone app that tells you when people you know or who are within your broader network of connections, are near.

Sonar Scan
Sonar Scan

Sonar utilizes your mobile phone’s ability to pin point your location and that of those you may know. It draws the association links based upon publicly available information including Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare profiles. It then suggests to you a number of people that happen to be at the same venue so that you can connect with.

So let’s envision you’re at a concert milling about. You can sign onto Sonar and it brings up a series a people you may wish to meet. It ranks them by strength of connection and tells you how you know each other. For instance, perhaps you both share Facebook friends. When you click on someone it then brings up a page where you can find out more details about that person including who those shared friends are. It also displays their interests and networks. so you can get a feel for who they are. Then lastly you can click on them to send them a message and begin a conversation.

This all sounds great but like most social apps they need to reach a certain level of saturation before they’re any fun. For instance, what if you’re at a concert and bring up Sonar and you’re the only one scanning. The way most social applications work is you’ll be lonely and out of luck. Since Sonar’s integrated with the flourishing networks of Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare this isn’t a problem. It’s set up to be utilized even if others aren’t registered or signed in at the time. The connect messages are sent via social network’s messaging systems so they’ll receive them just fine.

Sonar solves a unique problem in the social paradigm. The I’m out and about and don’t have anything to do at the moment so I’m just going to look at my phone problem. We’ve all seen people standing around trying to kill time by looking through their phones. Maybe they’re playing a game or trying to find someone to chat with. Sometimes you’ll be successful in finding someone to talk with to kill time, other times you’ll end up sending a text to that girl that doesn’t really like you. Or worse- your ex. Sonar’s platform rescues you from this situation by helping you find someone new or someone familiar to meet up with.

Running into people when you’re going about your day can be a lot of fun. It makes you feel liked, known, and gives you a sense of belonging. Meeting people that you have shared connections with can be fun too and is a great way to expand your circle of friends. Sonar gives you the best of both worlds allowing you to discover when your close friends and those in your broader network of connections, and nearby. It will give any venue, no matter how large or small, that local pub in your home town feeling.

  • Steve Gibson

    *Update!* We are introducing the next version of the app tomorrow, which includes a very significant new data source that makes Sonar that much more useful for business networking. Now, Sonar pulls LinkedIn data to show users shared connections on the LinkedIn network. In addition, we’ve updated the UI, making it even easier to connect with people nearby with just a couple clicks. Since launch, Sonar has made over 60,000 introductions!

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