We all know about social check-in services like Gowalla, FourSquare and even FaceBook Places. These services allow you to announce that you are at a particular venue, event, company or location, quickly and easily all via your mobile device. With some, the more places you go, the more credibility and achievements you get (e.g., badges). Some people might question why anyone might want to do this. Well, now with LocalMind, a new service that was recently announced, you can actually get some value from these check-ins.
Personally, I don’t use check-in services very frequently but I know many other people who do, all of the time. Those concerned with privacy probably won’t be as active as those who travel, visit many locations or just want to share what they are doing. When I go to certain events, I check-in to just announce that I’m there and see who else that I know might be there as well. But that is pretty much it. There are obvious privacy and security concerns that you should think about when using these social check-in services (see this article on TechCrunch about PleaseRobMe.com). And this is one of the reasons why I stopped doing these check-ins.
That is, until I learned about LocalMind. What LocalMind does is actually add value to your check-ins, as well as provide value to others who might need information about the place where you are. Here’s how it works in a nutshell, but I will go into it in more detail later. You first need to download and sign up for the LocalMind service. There is an iPhone app and an Android beta app currently. Then, you connect your social check-in services like FourSquare, Gowalla, Twitter or Facebook Places. The rest is pretty simple. You are ready to ask or answer questions about places that you are at or might be headed towards.
So, why would you want to do this type of thing? Sure, the social check-in services are fun…for a while, but if you are like me, they don’t add too much value to your life. What if you wanted to know more about the place that you were going…like how long of a wait it is at a particular restaurant or if there are iPad 2′s in stock at your local Apple store. It’s easy enough to just take a chance and go to the place and hope and pray that things will go your way. But with LocalMind, you can do some “research” ahead of time.
There are a couple of ways that you can do this. In LocalMind, you can look on the local map, if you are in the area of where you are going, and see if the location you want is there, or you can use the “search” feature and search for the name of the location or place (you can limit it to 1, 5, 10 and 50 miles). If there are “Localminds” near you, you can just ask them a question in real-time, assuming they are still checked-in to that location. When you ask, they get a notification (e.g., Push Notification, Email or even SMS) of your question. If they answer, you get notified via the methods that you have configured. You can then thank them if you so wish. With each interaction, you get Karma points which moves you up the Leaderboard. The more points or the higher you are ranked, the more trustworthy you become. To make things even more exciting, as you get more points, you get “leveled up” in a particular location.
I spent a few minutes with Lenny Rachitsky, the founder of LocalMind, last week and recorded the following interview:
[iframe_loader width="560" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/rM6VxTQfF2U?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen]
A bit more background on LocalMind, the company. It was founded in January 2011 and was funded by Year One Labs (an incubator). Currently, it is a team of 3 people: Lenny, Beau Haugh and Nelson Gauthier. They have pushed the product through a very aggressive timeline: their website was launched in February of this year, the iPhone app came out in March and then the Android beta app came out in April.
One thing that I told Lenny when I was speaking to him about his product was that I wished that you could set a profile name, as opposed to using just the first name and last initial. Many people, like me, have “online personas” (e.g., a Twitter handle) that they use since it is more recognizable than the name. I think it is important to have a “nickname” or “handle” field and the ability to choose what you show to others.
Another confusing thing, that I had to ask about, was how the Leaderboard actually works. The leaderboards who people who are in your friend network of FourSquare. When I was looking at the leaderboard nearby, I noticed some names that were familiar. It turns out that those are from FourSquare so you get to see how you rank against other contacts in FourSquare.
Here are some screens from the application:
When you first sign up, you need to associate or link some of your social check-in services with LocalMind
Once you have done that, you can view other Localminds around you. There is plenty of help within the app.
Based on my location (in the screen above) there are 4 other Localminds, besides me (you can see mine is the one next to the blue location dot).
You can see some Localminds around your current location that have checked in using the other services.
You can also see local questions that have been asked recently.
If you watched the video above, there was a question that Lenny asked me about GoGrid (on the left) and then my response is on the right.
Then a few minutes later, Lenny sent me a thank you, to which I received some extra Karma points.
You can see my local leaderboard standing, and the fact that I have a flag that says that I provided a helpful answer.
There is also a web-based version of their application. It’s a bit easier to use if you want to look at the world as a whole however, as of this writing, it wasn’t quite finished. Basic functionality does work though.
If you click on some of the menu or navigation items, you will get some funny error messages like “You caught us. This tab isn’t ready to come out from under the covers just yet. Stay tuned.”
It’s nice to see that someone is looking to overlay some sort of value and knowledge to these social networking and check-in services. I don’t know about you, but my life is pretty hectic and structured, and frequently it seems that my schedule is like a fly-by-wire airplane flight. So, using a check-in service where I can get real-time knowledge back to me quickly so that I can be more efficient with my decisions is definitely useful. That is to say, I can ask other localmind experts at the places I need to go to if there is a wait or if they have the item that I want. Yes it does require that other people not only check-in using the other services, they also have to be willing to answer questions if asked. But assuming that they have opted in to LocalMind, they are going to be willing to answer some questions.
I believe that LocalMind has a lot of potential. They obviously need to get more users engaging within their service in order for it really to be compelling and do well in the market. The service and applications are free so I encourage you to download them and become an active participant of the LocalMind community. It doesn’t take much to do, and asking or answering questions takes only a minute or so and can really help build the community. It is important to note that they are NOT a replacement to the social check-in services already in existence. They are simply looking to overlay an informational Question and Answer layer on top of these already popular services.
HTD says: LocalMind makes your social check-ins more valued to both you and others by simply answering and asking questions connected to your check-ins.