The idea of an app that reduces social awkwardness may sound strange to many but one startup thinks it has cracked the code with a new app that makes it incredibly easy for people to connect with new acquaintances.
Knock Knock allows users to exchange contact information and links to social networks with people nearby by simply tapping on the screens of their phones.
Created by Humin, the San Francisco startup behind the context-based contacts app of the same name, the company hopes the app will make it easier for people to get to know each other and exchange contact information in an easy, low-commitment way.
“It’s not even that people are awkward, it’s that situations are awkward,” says Ankur Jain, Humin’s CEO and cofounder. “You can be the most social, confident person and still end up in an awkward situation where you’ve forgotten someone’s name. Or you want to say hi to someone but you don’t want to interrupt them and if only there was a way to casually say ‘let’s stay in touch.'”
When you want to chat with people nearby, launch the app and “knock” by double tapping on the screen. Anyone close to you — the app can find people within a 150-foot radius — who also responds with a “knock” on their phone will be instantly connected in a group within the app.
From there, you can choose to chat within the app or you can share your contact information or links to your social networks. The app lets you choose exactly what information you share and others in your group won’t know what you’ve shared with everyone else.
“It makes it so you’re not the weirdo who’s going home after meeting someone for five minutes and trying to search for them on six different places,” Jain explains.
In my limited testing of Knock Knock, the app was able to quickly connect me with several others nearby and exchanging messages and contact information was surprisingly smooth — though I didn’t push the app to its maximum 150-foot radius.
Behind the scenes, the app relies on bluetooth low energy (BTLE) networks to enable connections between people near each other who have the app. This also means that interactions are limited to people who are physically in the same room as you and Jain says the general rule is that if you aren’t close enough to wave at someone, then you’re not close enough to show up in the app.
Other than group chats, Knock Knock also allows you to quickly see who is close by and “knock” on individual users to start a one-on-one conversation. The app also takes a few cues from Jain’s other app, Humin. Much like Humin, Knock Knock keeps track of everyone who you’ve connected with and location details of where you first met as way to jog your memory during future conversations.
The app, which is available now on iOS and Android, will initially be limited to students at a handful of colleges, including Stanford, Cornell and Harvard. After the initial rollout, the app will open up to more colleges before it’s available to everyone. Those who aren’t students can add themselves to the app’s waitlist to be among the first to get access.