Social proximity with bluetooth

T. Nicolai, N. Behrens, and E. Yoneki "Wireless Rope: An Experiment in Social Proximity Sensing with Bluetooth". IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PerCom) – Demo, Pisa, Italy, March 2006. The article describes an application called "Wireless Rope", an application on Java enabled phones, which collects information of surrounding devices by Bluetooth. The authors study large scale Bluetooth scanning for proximity detection with consumer devices and its effects on group dynamics during the conference.

Like a real rope tying together mountaineers, the Wireless Rope gives the urban group immediate feedback (tactile or audio) when a member gets lost or approaches. Thus everybody can fully engage in the interaction with the environment, and cognitive resources for keeping track of the group are freed. The program also displays the current status of the rope (Fig. 1). At the same time, collected information kept in the devices are gathered at a central station via special tracking stations. Registered users can look at the connection map created by gathered information from phones via the web (Fig. 2).

Why do I blog this? I'd be happy to see the results from the experiments used with this tool:

We plan to evaluate the logged information afterwards to analyse the connection patterns, group formation and evolution, and social patterns including an evaluation of the usefulness of Bluetooth for this kind of proximity detection. The result from this experiment may provide the aid which highlights relations between objects, people, situations within the given space, a scientific conference envi- ronment. This could be extended to map urban inhabitants. Our future fabric of digital and wireless computing will influence, disrupt, expand and be integrated into the social patterns within our public urban landscape.

Especially with regards to certain question: how this application fits into people's practices? how do the users react to awareness of others?