Despite the fact that so many of us carry smartphones these days, it's ridiculously awkward to share data from one phone to the other if you're standing right next to someone. Let's say you want to send a photo to a friend after you just snapped one together. You'd have to go through the same process—tap out a message and send an email or text—that you would if you were on different sides of the planet. Short of Bluetooth, which requires an annoying pairing process, there are very few local data sharing options.
Enter Chirp, a new app for the iPhone. Like Bump, it makes local sharing fun, but it adds a... chirpy twist. Instead of physically butting phones together, you instruct your phone to emit a short song. It acts as a cry out to the other smartphones in the area, and any phone listening can pick it up, as a sort of aural QR code. Sharing is easy and intuitive, and as long as your app is running and listening, it's easy to receive the link.It's easy to imagine the applications for, say, conferences and events when you want to quickly distribute data, like photos or a link, to a large group of people within hearing range. There's also this intriguing bit, from their FAQ: "Chirp can hear ultrasonic tones. But then you wouldn't hear them, so we've left them out. For now, anyway." Oh, the possibilities.
An Xiao Mina is an American designer strategist and researcher who recently worked on the Gwangju Design Biennale's Un-Named Design exhibition. She focuses on the role of social media and communications technologies in building communities and empowering individuals. Find her on Twitter here.