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Facebook Bluetooth App Maps Friendship Networks

Researchers at the U.K.'s Bath University have developed a tool that uses the unique electronic IDs of Bluetooth devices, such as a mobile phone, to map the physical paths of friendship networks, the BBC reported.

To use the service, users register with the Facebook tool called Cityware, which tracks a person's movement in the real world via Bluetooth. The application is part of a wider project supported by Nokia, HP Labs and Vodafone.

Vassilis Kostakos, a research associate at the University of Bath, told the BBC that, "networks are everywhere--social and digital. The really nice thing about Bluetooth is that when you are walking down the street, although you are not talking to anyone, your Bluetooth device can be talking to other devices."

The tool lets users find out if any of the people they run into is a Cityware user and has a profile of Facebook. If so, they can then add that person to their Facebook friends' list. "People with Bluetooth devices are actually creating an ad hoc communications infrastructure where information can flow through the city over time," said Kostakos.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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