November 17, 2011
How come I'm able to tweet out thoughts to “followers” I've never met, thousands of miles away, but not engage in seamless conversation with the people physically around me? Hyper-local chat application Saylo is changing all that, letting you stand up in any room and say or ask exactly what's on your mind.
Say it's your first time at that trendy little Asian fusion place downtown, and you want to know the yummiest thing to order off the menu. Or maybe you're at a tech convention and you want discuss that last speaker's speech with everyone in the ballroom. Saylo allows you to freely converse with the people around you in any physical space – it is changing the way we interact with each other.
“It breaks down the social barriers that make it uncomfortable to strike up a conversation or make announcements to a group of people you don't know,” says founder Sean Sun. “It makes the idea that you must first meet someone to have a conversation obsolete.”
To maintain anonymity, users log in and are given a name at random that changes every time they use the app. Then, they're able to see a list of virtual chat rooms that other users have created in the immediate vicinity (a “room” can span up to 150 yards). Once in a room, users are free to chat with anyone close by. Saylo essentially allows users to create an anonymized, hyper-local chat layer over a physical location.
But what makes Saylo so different from the well-beloved Twitter hashtag or Foursquare?
“Because the audience is so different, so is the conversation. Things you want to say to the people around you because you've all just seen/smelled/heard or otherwise experienced the exact same thing may not be the things that you necessarily feel are relevant to everybody else who loves #hockey! Sometimes you want to make a comment without feeling like you're cluttering up everybody who isn't at the games' stream,” says Sun.
Saylo is currently in its test stage, with a hopeful launch date of April 2012 for web, iOS and Android. The DC-based startup is performing a lot of its beta testing on college campuses, as their dense populations are perfect for what Saylo's trying to accomplish – big lectures, sporting events, and dorms are perfect testing grounds for location-based conversation.
The team also has features in the works that will allow people to collectively red-flag and filter out offensive users and comments, blocking them in a way we only wish we could in real life.
To find out more about Saylo, check out their website here. The company was a featured startup at Tech Cocktail's DC Mixer last week, and is currently looking for funding to assist with their marketing needs.
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