Gadget Watch

Joi Ito reports on spotme, a system for facilitating interaction between attendees at a conference. The part you see is a little wireless linux device that can tell you who you’re sitting near, or notify you when someone you’ve been looking for comes into range. There’s a base station which bridges the wireless network to the internet and broadcasts database updates to the mobile devices, and there are photo stations for use at registration when people get their devices.
I’m not really sure when I’ll be enough of a player to be at a conference where they distribute these things, but it’s a very cool idea. If they can port the software to a variety commercially available mobile devices, this could really become a killer app, installed in all kinds of social meeting spots. There are some interesting (but certainly solvable) security questions in an environment like that, about how you could “expose” your presence to some devices without exposing yourself to stalkers and creeps.
cf. Brave Net World, an earlier TTW post on a similar topic.