Marriott’s new app is innovative, but slightly disturbing
The Marriott chain has recently released a new social networking app. The app, called Six Degrees, was designed by MIT’s Mobile Experience Lab and aims to connect their guests by showing them who else in the hotel shares their same interests. This brings a whole new meaning to “mingling in the lobby.”
To effectively use the app, once you have downloaded it, you will be asked to connect with your LinkedIn account. By analyzing your profile, it will be able to tell if you share similar interests with anyone else in the lobby; such as work history, college groups, friends, etc.
That little bit of analyzing is not too disturbing for daily social media users, but here is the disturbing part, in my opinion – the information is then passed on to the hotel staff and then displayed on the lobby screen to encourage interaction. What? The premise was the staff could organize networking events based around connections; thereby making their guests’ experience more enjoyable, but it just seems a bit odd.
Choosing Facebook or LinkedIn
The MIT team said they initially planned to connect the app with Facebook, but felt that it was too personal, so they opted for LinkedIn. The do state that privacy was a primary concern, “Six Degrees does not share people’s photos or last names with random strangers…we certainly don’t want people’s pictures popping up everywhere and being stalked around the hotel.”
While I agree, my question is, if you are sharing my first name, education, work history, and other details about my profile, how long is it really going to take before someone puts two and two together? Of course, this is a peril of all social media, but the app seems to be inviting an unnatural amount of sharing with perfect strangers.
A series of physical lobby features, including the aforementioned interactive digital screen and the additional LED table feature, work to connect guests, further. When a user places their phone on the LED table, lights will illuminate based on their connections to others seated nearby; disturbing, or cool, depending on your level of comfort sharing that much information.
While the ingenuity is to be applauded, I still like old fashioned conversation, rather than using a covert, social-media analyzing app. But the real question is – will you use it?