CSU grad student Brian Ritter, center, created SocialPing.
Social media is sometimes blamed for decreasing the amount of time people spend interacting in person. So a Colorado State University student has launched a new smartphone application called SocialPing to create more face-to-face interactions.
The free app for helping people meet and make new friends was released Jan. 19 for all Apple and Android users at http://socialpingapp.com/. (It will also be available on Google Play and the App Store).
Brian Ritter, a graduate student in the part-time Professional MBA Program in the College of Business, had the idea of SocialPing after trying to meet new people in the various countries he has visited.
“I have traveled to more than 40 countries, and most of the time I was alone,” said Ritter. “It can be very off-putting to constantly put yourself out there in unfamiliar places, and most of the apps that are available tend to have dating pretexts.”
Ritter, who studied sociology and pre-med as an undergraduate, said he enrolled in CSU’s professional MBA program because his business acumen stems from real-world experience, not an academic foundation.
“Acquiring such an academic foundation, I believe, will ultimately lead to better business decision-making, which I am confident will equate to greater long-term success — both for my startup and my career path as a whole,” he said. “I chose the CSU MBA professional program because it is ranked highest in the state of Colorado. Even though I live in Boulder, I choose to commute up to Fort Collins so I can get the most out of the program in terms of learning from my peers and, of course, the exceptional professors and instructional coordinators.”
About the app
Unlike dating apps such as Tinder, SocialPing enhances social interactions with the goal of meeting new people and building friendships. Although numerous apps are used purely for online chatting, this one promotes face-to-face contact based on common interests.
“People are becoming more lonely and disconnected than ever before because of technology,” Ritter said. “We want people to use this app as a tool to be more social and increase human interaction, along with doing something they love to do.”
With hundreds of activity categories, from sports to academics, SocialPing allows individuals to connect with anyone within a 100-mile radius. That radius updates and changes according to an individual’s ZIP code, and if people are interested in an activity that is not listed, they can contact the SocialPing team and request that it be added.
How it works
“Meeting new people and making new friends has never been easier,” Ritter said. “Users just have to download the app, register, create a profile, pick their activity preferences, find people who like the same things and then send them a ping to connect.”
Anyone can send a ping; whoever receives the ping has the option of accepting or denying the request. If a request is accepted, the receiver is added to the sender’s “pals” list, and the coordination for hanging out in person begins.
Once users meet and hang out they can “phone dap,” which Ritter refers to as a digital fist bump.
“Once you meet a new friend or group of friends, one individual displays a QR code, and then the other one scans it,” said Brian. “From this, users can earn social badges that will eventually equate to rewards like swag and unlocking VIP app features.”
There is also an interactive content feed for each activity. Individuals can post anything that correlates with that activity and can label something as “cool,” similar to a “like” on Facebook.
The app has been launched only in the U.S., but Ritter expects it to expand globally. Once he gets a better idea of the users and their needs, he hopes to add video chat so that people have the option to meet digitally before face-to-face.
As for his experience in CSU’s professional MBA program, Ritter said his favorite course so far has been “Leadership Management,” taught by Associate Professor Troy Mumford.
“This course opened my mind to a new realm of possibilities concerning business culture and the most effective ways in which to lead,” Ritter said. “Dr. Mumford is a truly exceptional professor and I am grateful for his tutelage.”