Chris Schmidt (crschmidt) wrote,
Chris Schmidt
crschmidt

Bluetooth and FOAF

Bluetooth is being integrated into more and more devices these days. Despite the constant refrain on /. that "Bluetooth is dead", Apple's latest devices, along with many other mobile devices, include Bluetooth as a method for medium distance high speed transfers. As our mobile devices become more and more integrated into our lives, we will see these devices used more and more as our contact with computers. Gone are the days of not getting to email in time, or needing to run to a computer to find the information we need. The information will continue to be available via the little devices so many of us carry around already.

As this transition occurs, our mobile devices will begin to identify us more and more to the machines we interact with. Examples of this are everywhere. Recently, a friend of mine programmed his computer to turn on his screensaver when he walked away from the computer. By watching the bluetooth signal, he was able to determine how far away from the computer he was and tell his computer to act accordingly. As there devices identify us, they become part of who we are in the electronic world.

BlueFOAF is a leader in this trend, searching out and recognizing people based on their Bluetooth devices. One of the biggest benefits of this setup is the fact that these devices have a unique identifier - the mac address associated with the phone - that makes lookups trivial. So, the next step is to have these unique identifiers included in information that we present about ourselves online.

FOAF is one way to do this. By adding a descriptor about your bluetooth mac address to your FOAF file, you can easily tell other machines out there who owns the mobile device in your pocket. (At this point, this is theoretical -there is no part of the existing spec that allows you to describe this information.) The next step is clearly to teach your phone how to recognize who is around you. In a purely theoretical hashing it out kind of situation, this is what i forsee:

You build a FOAF file. This file includes information about who you know, as usual, as well as your mobile device identifier, as determined... Somehow. I'm not sure exactly where that part comes from yet. ;) In any case, you submit your FOAF file, either to a web application or a local application. This program then spits out a file describing the Bluetooth mac addresses of your friends and friends of friends, including who they are, a link to their FOAF profile, and how you are linked to them. Then, you export this information to your phone, where it is easily indexed and searchable by software you can then write.

The software needs to do very little... Simply search out bluetooth devices nearby (when requested) and compare the mac addresses with the information stored in the database that you sent to your phone. Once you search through that information, display matches:Christopher Schmidt, using device named Kiwi3650, link through danbri, FOAF-link. The program could then use a basic RDF parser along with GPRS to retrieve the FOAF file and display key information about the person in question, such as a picture and full title with a homepage link. With that, you could walk up to the person in question, introduce yourself, and start talking, beginnin with the friend you both share.

The power of social networking will not be fully realized until people start to integrate tools like this into their everyday lives. As mobile devices become more prevalent, it will become easier and easier to manufacture coincidences such as the meeting of a friend of a friend. No longer will friendships and relationships need to start with the introduction by an awkward third party - accidental friendships can be formed with no middle man other than a relatively simple use of technology. As mobile devices and devices with Bluetooth become more and more popular, the technology for something like this falls directly into our hands.

This entry typed in approximately one hour on a Nokia 3650.
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