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Get closr to people with cork startups app

Thursday, 3rd July, 2014 1:00am

The best inventions can be the simplest, the ones that just make sense when you hear of them first.

Robin Deegan and Andrew Hobbs hope that their new experience-sharing app, Closr, will be such a success.

Closr is an app that helps people share the same experience, collaborate and enjoy that experience, even if these people do not know each other.

CIT PhD student Rob first came up with the idea for Closr around a year ago although it has changed quite a bit since then. "I started developing it myself over the six months, testing and doing research.

"A few months back, I decided to take it more seriously and contacted Andrew, who does all the developing." Things have developed quickly and after months of development, Closr will release its flagship app for beta trials from 1 August, in partnership with Indiependence Music and Arts Festival.

During the months of August and September, Closr will be available to the people of Cork and will be partnered with events taking place in Cork.

For Robin, the possibilities are huge. At a festival for example, the app could be used to "stream all photos to a big event, so it could be on a big screen".

A lot of photo-sharing apps like Instagram (sold for $1bn to Facebook) and WhatsApp (sold for $19bn to Facebook) haven't found a way to monetise their services. Rob believes he has.

For example at festivals, Rob thinks it could be ideal for context-based advertising. A hot dog stand at a festival could send an ad to all the people at the festival, using its geo-location tracking.

In another example, he says Guinness might sponsor events at Croke Park, they could use Closr to access photos from all the events that take place there, as well as events that have taken place there in the past.

They also plan on finding new ways to benefit users over time. "If you create something that people want to use, they will use it. We facilitate people to share an experience."

Robin and Andrew plan on a phased launch in order to incrementally get feedback from users. "We should get a few thousand people at Indiependance. In six months at the start of next year, we will know what works and roll it out abroad with a European launch," he says.

The Closr founders plan on doing beta trails for the app in August to September and then are hoping to join an accelerator programme in September.

Robin also talks of 'people helping people' and Closr being a new "paradigm that will attempt to disrupt the way people share and interact with technology."Closr uses geo-location, big data and cloud services to allow people to get more from their experiences by tapping into the experiences shared by others. They call this a 'crowd network' and say "it is far more representative of real life, rather than current social networks, which are more contrived and artificial."We would like to be an image repository, not a social network. With the rise of apps, there is a much smaller repository of images, as they are behind firewalls. The only way to create a good repository is to get users to contribute, as most of the two billion photos uploaded every day is behind a firewall."

A quarter of all people aged 13-17 have left Facebook, he says. He adds that studies have shown "that the younger you go, the more aware of privacy issues they are. For younger generations, technology is more ubiquitous. They have a much keener idea and can make decisions on how private they want something to be." Rob has a MSc in computing from the CIT, he wrote his thesis on mobile usability and is a user experience (UX) consultant. Andrew has a MSc in computer science from UCC and has developed mobile apps for multinationals, as well as startups, in several countries.

Rob has a background in psychology, which has made him a popular target for gambling companies on LinkedIn, he says.

Robin is unsure of how positive social networks are. Social networks cause depression, anti-social behaviour and vanity he adds. "Social networks are a very bad place. This is why a lot of teens won't use them. We older people are addicted to them, however. There hasn't been enough credit given to how manipulative social networks are."To see more about Closr, see http://www.closr.com/.

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