From CS 160 User Interfaces Sp10
In this document, I present an app that would enable users to choose a list of activities they like to be involved in, following which the app finds them locations nearby. It also serves as a networking app to find people in nearby areas with similar interests, as well as enables people to locate and advertise new locations for activities.
Target User Group
The target user group for this app can involve a significant number of people, from different age and interest groups. For one, we could have people interested in different activities. Though the initial idea was based on sports, there is no restriction as to what the activity could be(for example, we could have a knitting group in SF posting it up on our system, or perhaps a reading club). This application can be ported easily from the iPhone to the Android(and perhaps the new iPad). A simple texting extension to the service can help us reach non-data plan using customers.
Most users are involved in some form of physical activity that involves social interactions. While some may be able to locate areas where they can join like minded people in similar activities, many cannot. Imagine shifting to a new town, or new area and trying to find a place to play basketball, or join a reading group focused on Pre-Independence works by female authors. Finding such groups is often a task that relies heavily on luck. Such users need a way to find such groups, or form one of their own and then advertise of their existence so that others can join them.
Problem Context and Forces
The main aspect of the problem is using Geolocation and matching with a database of users in the given area. An additional aspect would be, upon matching the users with a given location/person, enabling one user to reach the other location/user. Also we would need a way for the two users to communicate(ideally without divulging personal information such as phone number). We would also need to incorporate Geotagging to enable users to locate new places for activities that are not included in the existing database.
The users for this app would be basic users, with a wide variety of technical backgrounds. Hence we can make no assumption about their skill levels, and must make the interface as intuitive as possible, perhaps based on normal input mechanisms for the iPhone(as they would be accustomed to that). The users will also like the app to be fast, as the biggest advantage of the app is its speed over physically searching. Thus we must ask limited questions and be able to derive the user's location and other aspects directly from the iPhone itself. Also users would want this app to be reliable and accurate, as locations of existing activity "hotspots" are derived from other users' input as well and may be misleading. Hence it is essential to have a ranking mechanism to show reliability as well as rating of the location as well as users(similar to Amazon's rating and reliability estimates of books and users).
As mentioned above, there are many risks that are entailed through sharing of location. Thus it is essential for us to both have measures to rate users as well as locations, as well as disallow access to users beyond a certain age limit(13 or 18).
Other than the risks, the biggest challenge facing JoinMe is the same problem that faces most Social Networking related websites/apps. To allow the website to be successful/useful, and to encourage users to join, we must have an existing database of users/locations, not to mention reliability ratings. This can be partially offset by building an initial database of "known" locations, such as the RSF in Berkeley, or Sky High. Also we can connect users to their facebook/email accounts, enabling them to see if any of their friends are around and involved in similar activities.
Existing competition for JoinMe comes from Loopt and Dodgeball. These services involve Geolocation and messaging services as well, though their focus is on finding friends around you. JoinMe on the other hand is centered upon a users preferences in activities, and then finding friends or other users with similar preferences nearby.
As seen in the second image, we can even perhaps extend the use of the app by finding a series of locations nearby that can fit our schedule, first a sport, then some relaxing knitting and then finally a party. This can integrated with existing position as the starting point, and ending position, as perhaps home.
Swapnil Ralhan - Jan 27, 2010 05:33:11 pm
Perhaps we can add an option of carpool, to see multiple people going to the same place and enabling car sharing options.