The company has unveiled Hypertrending feature that would provide real-time information of people at any given time on a map.
Hypertrending is based on Foursquare’s innovative Pilgrim technology, which is integrated into Foursquare apps and also used as a standalone third-party enterprise tool.
The technology would provide real-time information about phones in Austin, Texas during the course of SXSW.
The information about the people is shown through dots on a map. The size of the dot gives an indication of the number of active devices at a particular time, and color shows the type of place. The map can be further filtered based on different classifications: All places, food, nightlife, events etc. So anyone using the map would get a fair idea of how many people are there at a night club or say how many are at an art gallery.
There is also a real-time updated list of Top 100 places which shows the place where maximum number of people are, and there are arrows that indicate whether a place is trending or not.
This might sound similar to the working of creeping surveillance machinery and intruding into a person’s private space but hypertrending is just a demonstration of the technology capability and it is only available in Austin, Texas. As of now, Foursquare doesn’t intend to launch this feature publically. So alarmism over breach of individual privacy would be misplaced at this stage.
Hypertrending could be aptly called as the successor to Foursquare’s flagship Pilgrim technology. It allows a person to view the collective movement of the population but doesn’t offer any details about the individuals that make up that collective.
Dennis Crowley, co-founder of FourSquare terms hypertrending as a place-based version of Amazon’s Most Read books list’.
Fousquare strongly believes that the future would be shaped by contextual-aware technologies and smart virtual assistants that would understand everything from your commuting patterns to the emergence of Augmented Reality objects at a particular spot at a specified time. This means that hypertrending could have enormous utility in the technological landscape of the future.
“We made Hypertrending to show people how Foursquare’s panel works in terms of what it can do (and what it will not do), as well as to show people how we as a company think about navigating this space. We feel the general trend with internet and technology companies these days has been to keep giving users a more and more personalized (albeit opaquely personalized) view of the world, while the companies that create these feeds keep the broad “God View” to themselves”, wrote Dennis Crowley in the Foursquare blog post.
He also adds that Hypertrending is one example of how we can take Foursquare’s aggregate view of the world and make it available to the users who make it what it is. This is what we mean when we talk about “transparency”.
Users in Austin, Texas can access Hypertrending through both the Foursquare City Guide app and Swarm by simply shaking their phone. The feature would be available only during the SXSW conference.