Further to some postings a few weeks back about bluetooth dating (here and here), seems we defined the field too narrowly. We should have been talking about ‘personal smart presence devices’ and perhaps we’re not seeing a fad here, but a different way of regarding social interaction. (All these services reside on Bluetooth devices — usually cellphones — which then use the wireless connection medium to search for and link up with other devices running the same software.)
Speck, for example, integrates with the user’s IM buddy lists and address books. (Speck’s a bit different in that it is an actual device, not just software that loads onto an existing gadget. But it can in interact with Bluetooth PDAs and cellphone running Speck software.) It will then alert the user when others are near and, if wanted, swap information with them. So what, exactly, could something like Speck be used for? Here’s a list of some scenarios, most of which revolve around meeting people with similar tastes or swapping information (contacts, directions, playlists, functions). But how about the negative? Speck could be used to locate a “crush” around campus, know when he/she is in the area, or avoiding someone you really don’t want to see.
CrowdSurfer does something pretty similar, but focuses on the hidden connections between people (the friends they have in common, for example) who are within Bluetooth range. The creators of this service envisage a world beyond Bluetooth dating or toothing to where business people hook up with potential partners, customers or employers at conferences.
As Jonas M Luster writes in his blog: ”Sure, bluetooth dating and “toothing” seem to be not much more than just another fad, but one would do well to remember the humble beginnings of consumer-level VCR, BBS, and Internet technologies. It always starts with some romantic entrepreneur trying to improve his or her personal “hit rate” with a partner profile of choice, develops into cool new, and not so raunchy, technologies, before finally reaching commodity status.”