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LoKast Uncovered

May 25, 2010

Earlier this year at SXSW, we launched LoKast to much fanfare. Check out the great coverage on TechCrunch (http://bit.ly/bBC7sf), PCWorld (http://bit.ly/9deHcW), Billboard (http://bit.ly/bWuog), ZDNet (http://bit.ly/bj1lF9), Wired (http://bit.ly/b86ALC), VentureBeat (http://bit.ly/drZNCo), The Next Web (http://bit.ly/bZYpPw), and MediaPost (http://bit.ly/bPLfOh).

Now, we want to take a bit of time to describe the story firsthand:

In a nutshell, LoKast is a ‘disposable social network’, making it easy to set up your smartphone as a “local server”, set up your profile and populate it with media and content that defines you for that specific event, for that time, for that location, and automatically share your portal with others nearby.  Others discover you through LoKast and then find you in person, or vice versa – in either case, they have a rich profile of you at that moment in time, and can interact with you side-by-side with kicking “physical” game.  LoKast also allows you to access featured music artists so you can enjoy LoKast even if no one is around you.  We thought we’d blog about answers to some FAQs, and we welcome your thoughts on any others.

What is LoKast?

LoKast is an iPhone app that enables users, music bands, businesses, and anyone else to share rich content when nearby others (300 feet).  Users create portals by adding photos, videos, music, contacts and links they want to publicly share.  LoKast automatically discovers other users in proximity and allows users to interact, discover and exchange media with each other.  Entire photo albums, videos, music collections can be shared on LoKast.

How do I use LoKast?

Download the app for your iPhone/iPod Touch at http://bit.ly/GetLoKast.  To use LoKast, ensure you are nearby other users also on LoKast – if not, then tell your friends to get LoKast installed, and spread the word to others.  The more the merrier – just check it out with 5 others at same time.  It’s a real-time virtual venue.

Fire up the app, immediately see others nearby, and set up your profile and add your content right there.  Then or instead, go into the LoKasts of others nearby, explore through their portals, and get the content they are sharing.  At same time, other users can find you and your media, and can view your LoKasted media collections in real-time.

Or just add additional media content that you take live or are talking about with others around you, and they can instantly view it on their phones from your LoKast.

Why did NearVerse build LoKast?

On the one hand, we are a technology networking company at our core, with a platform that enables high-speed mobile interactions when nearby others.  At the same time, we are 100% behind the proximity Internet, the market we identified in 2008 as a great next opportunity, and LoKast is the platform that we are using to bring that world to you, all powered by our networking engine.  Our fundamental belief is that the world of physical interactions needs a rich interactive Internet medium delivered via mobile devices.  We coined the term proximity in 2008 along with some very smart other folks in the telco (yes telco believe it or not – many a visionary still live in that market) and the VC markets, and went on a voyage to enable easy ways to discover other people, and share rich media, with those nearby, to go hand-in-hand with physical interactions with them, in real-time:

  1. Physical interactions are real-time – we built LoKast to support those working at very fast data rates.
  2. Physical interactions are also dynamic – you meet new people, interact with them, and then you leave to go and meet others.  LoKast matches that by providing you with an ad-hoc social network, that always matches the one you are physically surrounded by, and that’s quickly and easily “disposable” – no need to join another social network and then figure out how to find the people that are nearby just to match your physical interactions with them.
  3. Physical interactions are also certain – they rely only on your five senses which are always available (at least for most of us and some subset for others).  So we built our networking platform, to ensure you can connect irrespective of whether 3G, WiFi, or Bluetooth networks are available or not.

So, LoKast exploits the power of the NearVerse platform to support truly real-time proximity interactions that match your physically proximate experiences.

Where do you see LoKast being used the most?

LoKast is a natural fit for events both social and professional.  Concert goers can use LoKast to get exclusive music, music videos, and other featured content from the band while the band is performing – content that’s only made available to the concert goers.  College students can use LoKast to socialize by instantly sharing a bunch of photos / videos taken at a recent party or trip or by recommending their favorite music to each other.  Friends can make social events more engaging, by taking group photos and instantly sharing them with the others around them.  Singles in a bar can use LoKast to wear a “digital outfit” and check out what goes hand-in-hand with the physical personas.  Networking event and conference attendees can use LoKast to share demo videos and exchange contact information for not just themselves, but those of their relevant social networks – the future of corporate networking.  Weddings, bars, at home, at work, at large events or at small private get-togethers – LoKast can literally help make any physically social event or occurrence into a rich, beyond five senses, experience.

What about Privacy?

In version 1.1.1, LoKast users only add content they want to make publicly available so likely will be used in trusted environments.  Privacy will be turned on in our next release, allowing private LoKasts to be created.

What’s this music thing all about?

We wanted to build the most engaging app for our users and live music venues happen to offer just that.  We have partnered with bands and music distribution companies to bring you featured artists that go “digital stage” with their fans when they perform live.  There’s no better medium to get featured music, music videos, and other content from your favorite band while at a live show.  And in order to ensure that you are never quite “alone” when using LoKast, we bring those same featured artists directly to you on a weekly basis in LoKast, irrespective of their proximity to you.  You can download entire, exclusive tracks of these “rising stars” and share those tracks with other users, even once the band is no longer featured.  It’s a great way to engage with the bands and the others all around you, around music, what keeps us together in every situation, through every life moment!

How is this different than other file sharing apps?

We have great respect for the work the other apps have done in allowing you to share stuff with others.  We differ from other file sharing apps in several ways:

  • We enable group interactions.  While other apps focus on 1-1 experiences, LoKast enables discovery and media exchanges with many users nearby, with multiple media items, at the same time.
  • We enable pull experiences.  While other apps focus on 1-1 push transactions, LoKast enables user to interact with others nearby on their own time, exploring their way through and getting the content they like.
  • LoKast uses the NearVerse networking platform, so you always have the absolutely highest-speed and non-3G-dependent experience.  You can use LoKast in the subway or in a basement!
  • LoKast is all about rich media.  While other apps focus on transfer of 1 contact and 1 photo, our core tech platform is built to share collections of larger rich media files like music, videos, photos, in addition to contacts and web links.

At the same time, try sharing contacts through LoKast – a cinch to share as much of your address book as you have in common with those around and for these contacts to appear in real-time in your LoKast, and it’s a one-click experience for the others to grab each contact from you, when and as they want to.

So check out LoKast at http://bit.ly/GetLoKast and please chime in with your feedback and suggestions, and we’ll make sure to build LoKast to suit your tastes.  Get LoKast today and help us lead the next mobile revolution, the next transformation in social media – real-time, digitally powered, proximity interactions!

Boris and Vic

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