Project Name:



While online social networks have brought people from distant locations closer together symbolically, people are still dependent on their location to form many of their ties. People often make connections with others who congregate in the same general area (e.g. school, work, etc). These ties are often made regardless of where people actually live.

NearBy is an experiment to see how people react when given information about their friends’ home locations. Privacy will be a concern, so the program may choose to show distance between peoples’ homes within a range, by number of miles, or show locations on a map. Often people who have met by non-local reasons will be surprised to learn that they live very close to one another. This can lead to closer relationships outside of the congregational realm.

It might also be fun to show other information based on the locations of the users, e.g. traveling salesman shortest path between users, popular dining areas near users and reviews, etc.

Technology Used:

  • Bluetooth sensors
  • The Umich student staff directory
  • Google maps API

Research Goal:

  • Interpret the different reactions to granular privacy changes
  • Interpret the reactions to locality information provided

Educational Goal:

  • Creating interesting “mashups” using different sources of data


  • Predictions on user response
  • Working module and documentation
  • Results from observed user response