How does one effectively communicate with a large number of strangers in close proximity? It could be the 'Annual Balloon Festival' in your locality, a conference, local emergency, an event at a stadium or your college campus. Of course you could use noisy megaphones, crowded information booths or resort to Twitter (for which you are back to the problem definition, how do you disseminate which twitter feed to subscribe to?). Enter SwarmLocal.
SwarmLocal lets you build localized messaging HotSpots (a.k.a swarms). The swarms you create or subscribe to have range limits, only users within the range can subscribe. Best of all, the swarm you create can be mobile, it moves with the Host who created it. Swarms disappear when user membership drops to zero. Also users automatically lose membership in the swarm when they move out of range.
Create a messaging hotspot anywhere, anytime for anything and disseminate information! Information stays local and users anonymous! Just like your local radio station, you tune in and tune out when out of range or flip to a different channel.
Inspiration and Objective
SwarmLocal was inspired by the ‘swarming’ behavior exhibited by bees.
This is how Wikipedia defines swarm behavior.“Swarm behaviour, or swarming, is a collective behaviour exhibited by animals of similar size which aggregate together, perhaps milling about the same spot or perhaps moving en masse or migrating in some direction.”
Nature has always demonstrated that collective behavior or teamwork can often hasten the pace of success. No wonder we have a plethora of adages that reflect this well known fact."United we stand. Divided we fall." "Strength in numbers."
We believe providing the ability for individuals to form groups of people in close proximity opens the door to a myriad possibilities of teamwork. In the glut of social networking services the power of the anonymous collective is being ignored.
The applications and possibilities are endless. From the frivolous flashmobs to the more serious business of revolutions. Considering the wide range of options we decided to cloak the entire service in anonymity. An individual is anonymous but together as a collective they represent the goal at hand. Also a key feature of ‘swarm’ behavior is mobility. So SwarmLocal allows this collective to be mobile.
SwarmLocal is our humble attempt to mimic ‘swarm’ behavior found already in nature. We envision this capability in the future to be present in all sorts of endpoints and not just in smartphones and bring people closer for specific goals and then let them walk away to their own individual shells once the task at hand has been completed.
SwarmLocal lets you create a messaging HotSpot (aka Swarms) on the fly. The swarms you create or join have range limits from 1600m to 20000m, only users within the range of the hotspot can subscribe. Best of all, the swarm you create can be mobile, so the hotspot moves with the Host who created it. Also SwarmLocal is based on complete anonymity, so no logins, sign-ups, registrations period.
The basics of what SwarmLocal does..
Lets get some basic terminology off of our chests:
swarm – A messaging HotSpot. A swarm is defined by its center and its range. Currently there are two types of swarm. The default mode allows all users in the swarm to send messages. Broadcast swarms only allow the host to send messages.
host – The person who creates the swarm. The center of the swarm is the current location of the host.
range – The range is the geographical distance from the center of the swarm (radius) within which other users can discover the swarm and elect to join. Users outside the range will not even ‘see’ the swarm and will not be able to join it . Also if a user who is currently subscribed to the swarm moves out of the range of the swarm he auto-magically loses membership to the swarm. When creating a swarm the host chooses the range of the swarm (currently 20000m - 1600m).
strength – This is also a fancy term for the current number of users in the swarm.
mobility – During the creation of the swarm the host can elect to form a mobile or a fixed swarm. The center of a Fixed swarm is fixed at the location of the host when its formed. It does not change throughout the rest of its life. The center of a Mobile swam continuously moves with the location of its host.
lifetime of a swarm – A swarm’s lifetime is determined by its membership. When membership drops to zero the swarm auto-magically ceases to exist.
#Universal Swarm# – This is one of a kind. It’s range is set to encompass the entire planet. So all users by default will see this swarm on their screens and be within its range.
The map above shows 4 swarms with varying ranges. And quite colorfully their names are ‘Pink‘, “Blue‘, ‘Green‘ and ‘Red‘. We also have three users ‘mark’, ‘mike’ and ‘mary’.
So from the terminology we outlined above.
Mark is going to be able to see/join only 4 swarms pink, blue, green and #universal swarm#.
Mike is going to be able to see/join only 3 swarms pink, green and #universal swarm#.
Mary is going to be able to see/join only 2 swarms green and #universal swarm#.
…and that is that. That should cover some of the basics of SwarmLocal.
Visit us at http://www.swarmlocal.com/faqs/
There is nothing new about the idea of location based messaging. What sets SwarmLocal apart from others are:
1. Mobility: Create mobile swarms. When you create a mobile swarm, the swarm's location moves with the host who created the swarm. So it could be an ice cream truck guy who creates a mobile swarm and drives around neighborhoods or a bunch of cyclists in a peloton.
2. Local: Swarms have ranges (1600 metres to 20000 metres). Only devices within the range of the swarm can see/join the swarm. Once you move out of range you automatically lose membership.
3. Anonymity: There is no registration, no signups..a user can float in and out of swarms without sharing any personal information. Complete anonymity. Also all messaging is encrypted.
4. Broadcasting: Ability to create broadcast only swarms. In text only broadcast swarms only the host can send messages. Perfect for emergency first responders or law enforcement. We have added broadcasting capabilities with our latest release. Now group host's can broadcast real time audio or video to other users in the swarm. Currently only supported on iOS devices.
There is a glut of social networking services that lets you share your everyday moments with your friends and family wherever they maybe in the world. But sorely lacking from this picture is the ability to setup an instant channel of communication among total strangers in close proximity who are all interested in a common goal and have no reason to persist this temporary arrangement by opening up their personal lives. The reasons could be as frivolous as an impromptu flash mob, volume discount at a nearby store or as serious as an organized demonstration.
The ability to organize a mobile network in real time and broadcast information will allow various entities like emergency first responders, law enforcement, indie radio station, universities and other organizations to rapidly disseminate information within a geographical area without having to first find a medium to inform users about the location of a specific Twitter channel or Facebook page. Instant real time audio,video and text broadcasting at everyone’s fingertips.
Flash mob? Revolution? Impromptu mass protest?Volume discount at the nearby store? The possibilities are endless.The ability to form fixed or mobile swarms gives a single individual the strength of many.
SwarmLocal versions are currently available for download on both the iOS and Android platforms. It is free to download and use with in-app purchase options.
Currently only the iOS version supports broadcasting real time audio and video.
We are working on adding several features to SwarmLocal in the future releases. Some of the immediate ones we are listed below:
- Ability to create polls.
- Web Interface to the service, which will allow managing groups from any web browser.
- Adding real time audio and video broadcasting to Android version.
- Supporting Windows Mobile.
Why KickStarter? Why now?
Over the last 18 months we have been committed, transforming SwarmLocal from concept to releasing basic versions for iOS and Android. We have spent considerable effort writing native code for both platforms.
The possibilities with SwarmLocal are endless and there is still so much more to add to the service to make it whole and worthy.
Your pledge and support will help us promote our idea vigorously and invest more in adding some powerful features and hiring talented resources. So please support us by backing us and help spreading the word out there!
Our funding goal will allow us to add real time audio/video broadcasting to Android, increase downloads and improve latency to backend services globally . To do so, the money will be spent to invest in marketing efforts, increasing the global footprint of our backend services and more people to be involved in the production. Every additional dollar raised will go directly into the development and operation of SwarmLocal as well as to our awesome backer rewards.
Main Screen. Showing groups in range of your location.
Details Screen. Shows details of the swarm.
Map Screen. Showing a mobile swarm with its range.
Create Screen. Create your own swarm
Risks and challenges
Although we have made great progress so far, and have been able to release versions of the service both on iOS and Android platforms, several challenges still exist. Below are the potential challenges we see and how we intend to tackle them:
1. A service like SwarmLocal needs to gain critical mass before it can become useful. Unless there are sufficient number of users in concentrated geographical areas the service is useless. We intend to focus our marketing and promotion efforts by targeting specific localities.
2. To gain wider audience we need to make it available on as many mobile platforms as possible. This will require significant time and money and it still might not be feasible to support it on older OS versions for all mobile platforms. Right now our focus is to target Android and iOS mobile platforms and then expand to others.
3. Supporting real time audio and video broadcasting an all platforms. Currently we support real time audio and video only for iOS platforms. There are some technical challenges to making it available on all platforms but we are working on it.
We are committed to making SwarmLocal as widely available as possible and you can help us by spreading the word and backing us on KickStarter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)