What I’ve witnessed this past winter at Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and four other resorts owned by Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN) is an extraordinary testament to my theory that for social networking to be ubiquitous it has to be frictionless. Vail has cracked this code with the EpicMix system using RFID embedded in every ski pass (YouTube). It’s effortless to track your location, vertical feet skieed, virtual pins earned and more.
At South by Southwest this year, people were referring to solutions by dwinQ and Sonar that brought social media into the real world frictionlessly – but there was a big difference in theses two ambient social networking examples.
With the Sonar app – it requires the user to have the intelligence, interface with the app, use the data carrying capability and have an expensive smart phone. The dwinQ app required a fifty cent RFID tag. The intelligence was at the location – looking for tags. The result of both is passive, although the dwinQ app is ambient social networking’s killer app because it captures the moment in photos and can tag all the people in the photo automatically without friction.
If people want ambient social networking, or social media experiences in the real world the quickest way to adoption is put the burden on the location not the user. Today, RFID is the easiest path there.