By: Jonathan Engelsma On: September 14, 2011 In: Blog, Featured Comments: 0

Social Check-In is an interesting mobile application genre that is getting a fair amount of attention from users. Foursquare, one of the most popular social check-in apps here in the USA, currently has around 10 million users. Even President Obama joined Foursquare this past August, which must really be giving the secret service headaches! Other social check-in apps such as SCVNGR and Gowalla are also becoming more popular. In addition to check-in to physical venues, there are also a growing number of other check-in apps that allow you to check-in to non-physical venues. For example, GetGlue let’s you check into a book you are reading, music you are listening to, or a movie you are watching.

Some social check-in apps such as Foursquare began by utilizing game mechanics to encourage sustained participation. For example, Foursquare users can earn badges, and become the “Mayor” of venues they visit frequently. This information is shared with a user’s social graph via leaderboards, which in theory encourages users to keep using the app. In addition to the gamification features, Foursquare also adds additional incentive by allowing owners of venues to “claim” their venue. Once claimed, a venue can offer specials to user’s who check-in. This feature is particular interesting to restaurants, hotels, retailers, etc.

Here in MASL, we’ve been interested in taking a closer look at social check-in and trying to better understand social check-in enthusiasts. What really is it that makes them tick? The game mechanics, the specials, or just making sure their friends know where they are? We’ve partnered with the Gilmore Collection, a local group of restaurants that have been using the Foursquare platform to promote their businesses for a while. Together, we’ve built the Gilmore Collection iPhone app which integrates directly with the Foursquare platform. We’d encourage you to try out this experimental social check-in app, and let us know what you think.


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Jonathan Engelsma
Jonathan Engelsma leads the GVSU Mobile Applications and Services Lab. He is currently an Associate Professor in GVSU’s School of Computing. His research interests are in distributed and pervasive computing with a focus on mobile applications and services. Dr. Engelsma earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Michigan State University in 1993. He has over two decades of industry experience, including 16 years in various research and development positions with Motorola.

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