Two Virginia Tech computer engineering graduates are traveling the country to promote their “non-creepy” personal locator app.
Kenan Pulak and Austin Marusco created "Roundpop," an application that allows people to view where others are based on their zip code or listed location on their social media profiles.
Before graduating in May, Pulak and Marusco avoided celebrations downtown with their friends to save up for their travels to promote Roundpop.
They showcased the app at Techcrunch Disrupt Startup Alley in New York City on May 21 in search of potential investors and incubators.
“People want to know where other people are, but they don’t want to be creeped out,” Marusco said.
His partner spoke of the importance of the app's "non-creepy" persona.
“We wanted to bridge the gap between the technological aspect and personal comfort level, like the human psyche aspect,” Pulak said. “We wanted to make it more easy for people to use, and we don’t want them to feel like we’re being intrusive.
“A lot of computer engineers are more worried about making a product that works and don’t really think about if it’s going to be easy to use. Facebook and Google are easy to use, and that’s why people keep coming back to them all the time.”
Pulak said that if a product is unorganized and not presented in the right way, then users will be turned off and will not want to use it.
Both of the Roundpop founders said they are influenced by Steve Jobs' — the creator of Apple Inc. — theory that technology should be designed around the human, rather than the human conforming to technology.
“Steve Jobs said that it’s not the technology load, but it’s the combination of the humanities and liberal arts that really make your heart sink,” Marusco said. “That’s what really underlines what we want to do at Roundpop. It’s about overcoming the person's mind and making them feel comfortable."
Marusco said that the most important aspect of the app in both design and marketing is to not be creepy, as most other personal locater devices are described.
“Non-creepy sticks in a lot of people’s heads,” Pulak said. “It derived from all of the other ones being called creepy, so all of the bad things said about the others, we are the anti-that.
"We wanted to give people the flexibility of privacy, because that is one of the most controversial things about social networking is wondering where your information is going, and how private is everything that I’m putting out there. You get a nice overview of everything that is going on, because you can see how people view you."
The app functions somewhat like a tracker — changing your location on Roundpop based on the cell phone tower your phone connects to.
“The way we do it is by detecting major location updates,” Pulak said. “So when you change cell towers, your location will update with that.
“This won’t kill your battery life, because you’re not pulling in a lot of information to your phone. It won’t be a battery drain.”
It will also utilize popular social networks to make adding friends easier.
“What we allow you to do is have a map view of where everyone is, and you get to choose who you want to follow,” Marusco said. “You get to add people from Facebook and Twitter that you want to follow, and you get to choose who can follow you and see your location.”
Marusco said that the user is prompted with different levels of sharing to choose from how certain people view their location. There is an option for everyone to only see your resident location that remains static no matter where you are. The other option is to allow people to know which zip code you are in by using background updating to present the current location.