Ryerson prof plays matchmaker with Bluetooth

A mobile application originally designed as a matchmaking and dating service project might change the way enterprise executives use social networking in the future.

Hossein Rahnama, a computer science instructor and PhD candidate at Toronto’s Ryerson University, started work in 2003 on a mobile application that conducts real-time compatibility matches using Bluetooth technology. Users would create a profile page on their phone in the same manner they would using Facebook or Myspace and with Bluetooth could run a compatibility search with nearby mobile users. The software was designed to eliminate the need for a centralized server, costly airtime charges, or even an Internet connection.

Now, several years into the project, the Ryerson researcher says the latest prototype of the software can be customized for more than just finding a Saturday night date. Rahnama said modifying the matching engine will give the software applicability for social events in the business world.

“One prototype we have is for a large business meeting, so instead of exchanging business cards, you can basically share your information through the Bluetooth mesh and the nearby contacts can be stored in your contact book,” Rahnama said. “And this could work with any sort of scenario. You enter a room and you will see what sort of people are there and whether they match your interests or not.”

But one of the most promising enterprise-focused aspects of the software could be its usefulness to conference speakers and presenters.

“Let’s say I’m a speaker in a big conference,” Rahnama said. “I will immediately be able to see how many of these people are engineers or how many of them are marketing people, and will be able to customize my speech accordingly.”

Rahnama and the software were featured on an episode of CBC’s The Hour last year, in which the program focused exclusively on the dating and matchmaking aspect of the technology. Despite this, Rahnama is committed to the software’s use in every social or business situation and feels the sky is truly the limit in how the matching algorithm can be customized.

“If a department store or a dance club is interested in setting up an access point with this technology, when users enter their location, they can retrieve the company’s profile, even search the location for specific items, or learn about upcoming events,” Rahnama said.

And while the current version of Rahnama’s mobile software is functional only within a 10-metre radius. But, he said, that will change very soon.

“What we’re doing now is increasing the size of the mesh, so we keep connecting phones together and on a recent prototype have actually gotten a 100-metre radius,” Rahnama said. “It’s not part of the functional prototype yet, but we will hopefully be at that stage in able two months.”

Rahnama said the patents have been finalized, and with Ryerson’s help, will look to commercialize the software in the near future.

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