WhozThat? Evolving an ecosystem for context-aware mobile social networks

Aaron Beach*, Mike Gartrell, Sirisha Akkala, Jack Elston, John Kelley, Keisuke Nishimoto, Baishakhi Ray, Sergei Razgulin, Karthik Sundaresan, Bonnie Surendar, Michael Terada, Richard Han

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most compelling social questions, which until now was left unanswered by current technology, is "Who's that?" This question is usually asked about a new unfamiliar person in a social setting who piques your curiosity. This article presents WhozThat, a system that ties together online social networks with mobile smartphones to answer this common and essential social question. WhozThat builds an infrastructure that shares social networking IDs locally, using wireless technology, while also leveraging a wireless connection to the Internet's social networks to bind identity with location. In addition, WhozThat offers an entire ecosystem on which increasingly complex context-aware applications can be built; that is, once the environment knows who one is, the environment can adapt its content based on the individual's identity or even the collective tastes of a local group. We describe a prototype of the basic WhozThat system and also describe a more advanced service we built, a context-aware music player. We also discuss security and privacy issues introduced by mobile social networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Network
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


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