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MIT, Marriott and LinkedIn Want To Find You A Match

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    Technology Technology Sep 05, 2014 05:10 PM EDT

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    "Say you don't want to run alone because you're in a new city," says Paul Cahill, SVP of brand management at Marriott Hotels. "How do we curate those experiences and connect people with similar interests?"

    Cahill took the problem to MIT's Mobile Experience Lab. MIT and Marriott are testing a matchmaking table using LinkedIn data.

    Eighty percent of Marriott's guests are there for business. They don't have the luxury of fast-friending in the lobby or reading guidebooks to find the best beer bar in the neighborhood.

    They came up with Six Degrees, a physical social network that has the potential to turn Marriott's lobbies into business traveler mixers, reports Wired.

    Six Degrees has three main touchpoints: An app, a digital wall projection and an interactive wooden table. The whole system piggybacks on the guests' LinkedIn account to gather information on where guests are from, where they work and their interests.

    Through an app, guests can also express interest in organized activities, like jogging in Central Park. Some of that information gets displayed on the wall, where anyone can see in real time how many guests are from a particular city or how many guests have signed up for a beer tasting.

    The communal table is embedded with RFID nodes that can communicate with guests' mobile devices or with a pre-programmed ID card.  

    When someone places their phone on the table, the table can read their interests or the activities they checked into. When two people at the table have something in common, LED lights in matching colors will glow and cue the connection.

    Project leader Amar Boghani said the group of MIT test users weren't as concerned with privacy as the developers were. That kind of insight is why Marriott looked to MIT for ideas in the first place. "We went to them because they're super-smart, but they're also our future target," Cahill says. "They are the consultants and travelers who will be staying in our hotels for the next twenty-five years."

    Six Degrees is currently just undergoing testing at the Marriott in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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