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App Alerts Users When Someone With A Shared Connection Is Close

Publication Date: 
April 09, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
Ellen Lee

Lecturer Elizabeth Stark spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle's Ellen Lee on new apps, which can sense people nearby and highlight your connections to them.

Sara Lannin was at a conference last month when her smart phone alerted her that a friend was nearby. It turned out to be a former colleague that Lannin had lost touch with and who now lived hundreds of miles away - but at that moment they were standing on the same street.

"I didn't anticipate running into her again, since we don't live in the same city," said Lannin, a 24-year-old from San Francisco. She ended up grabbing a drink and catching up with her friend during the conference. "It was a pleasant surprise."


Elizabeth Stark, a lecturer at Stanford Law School with a background in privacy and technology, said she sees the appeal of such apps. After all, who hasn't been someplace, only to find out later that a friend was there, too?