Proxxi, A Proximity-Based Social App

proxxi-logoFor the last few months, Greg Wilson and I worked nights and weekends on a little side project that we called Proxxi. The idea of Proxxi came from personal experiences, being in situations where we wished there was an easy way to communicate with people around us. For example:

  • Is there anybody at the Marriott up for a 7:30am run tomorrow?
  • Is there anybody on this Eurostar who can lend me a US to UK adapter?
  • What’s the guest WIFI password at Logan airport?
  • Got a snow blower. Let me know if you need help digging out this morning.

There is a big difference between building demo and production apps, and Proxxi was also the opportunity for us to go deeper with some products, libraries, and services like Cordova, Node.js, MongoDB, and several cloud services.

What is Proxxi?

Proxxi is an app that connects you with people and things around you, wherever you are. Instead of “following people”, you “follow your location” and you automatically become a member of the ad hoc community made of people near you. You see what’s happening around you and you can actively participate in this proximity-based community. Your location is never shared unless you explicitly choose to share it, so your privacy is protected.

Proxxi lets you communicate with other users either publicly by commenting on a post, or privately using a safe, anonymous email relay service. When using the private email option, Proxxi assigns temporary email addresses to let you exchange emails with other users using your normal email app, but without revealing your real email address.

Here are some other examples of messages people could post on Proxxi:

  • Will pay $50 to swap my middle seat for an aisle seat on UA433.
  • How’s traffic on I95 south?
  • Anybody up for a drink at Terminal B?
  • Will remove snow from your driveway this AM for $40.
  • Huge garage sale at 10am tomorrow.
  • The Buckhorn Elementary school bus is running 15min late this morning.
  • Selling Chemistry II book 3rd edition. Will be in student union until 2pm.
  • Looking for study group for Mr. Wilson’s Calc IV class.
  • Looking for tickets for tonight’s game.

Proxxi Architecture

The mobile app was built with Cordova, Backbone.js, RequireJS, and Topcoat. At the server side, we used, Node.js, Express, and MongoDB running on EC2. We also use S3 and CloudFront for the photo sharing part of the application.

Here is a high-level architecture diagram.

proxxi4

Chicken and Egg

Apps like Proxxi are only as good as the information users share, the questions they ask, the answers they get, etc. So there is definitely a chicken and egg challenge at launch. So, if you think this application can be useful and fun, we count on you to start sharing!

ios-store
android-store

23 Responses to Proxxi, A Proximity-Based Social App

  1. JC Lang January 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Can’t find it….. Is it available for France?

    • Christophe Coenraets January 30, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

      Hi JC, which phone do you have?

      • JC Lang February 7, 2014 at 5:27 am #

        Ah, it may be the reason why: too small.
        “Sony Xperia Active” (my very small “test” phone)

  2. Hans January 30, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Quick question: what animation system did you use? It’s very smooth. Application is a great idea. How it will get some traction. Very well done.

  3. Hans January 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    s/How/Hope/

  4. Ashish January 30, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    Just downloaded the app… its not able to find my location, but gmap can. Also, are you planning to make the code available? I am not planning to copy the code, but I want to see how are you tackling the issues with scrolling on android APIs < 11.

    • Ashish January 30, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

      Forgot to mention its not finding location on Samsung galaxy s4. On iPhone it works like a charm.

      • Ashish January 30, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

        OK, figured out the issue on android. Android has this bug where its geocoder service just dies silently. Once that happens all applications relying on that service do not get any application update. Google maps on the other hand does not use this service and is not affected by this bug. Restarting device starts the geocoder service though.

  5. Rags January 30, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    Will this be open sourced by Adobe ? Would be a great learning tool for phonegap

  6. Anil January 30, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    Fantastic idea. How long it took to develop this kind of app. Just asking as I think I am spending more time than required by trying different ui libraries and js libraries every time I start with new app.

  7. Manos Koufakis January 31, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    Hello from Athens, Greece.
    Excellent, brilliant idea and App. Looks like an 100% native thing. Tested on a Samsung Galaxy S4 mini and is extremely fast and well responding.

    This is a community based type of an app, the tougher type of App to become popular. But if it does become popular, it will be outstanding cause it’s very useful.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. Paulo January 31, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Work great on S4. A brief tutorial ?

  9. EvanZ January 31, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Pretty cool! Is the project available on github?

  10. EvanZ January 31, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    A co-worker and I tried this out. It seems that you have not yet implemented push notifications. Is that possible with Cordova?

    • Christophe Coenraets January 31, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

      Yes it is possible (using a plugin), and it’s #1 on the list

      • EvanZ February 1, 2014 at 10:43 am #

        Great, thanks for the quick reply.

  11. Jan-Dirk February 4, 2014 at 6:46 am #

    Can you add an option to show distances in KM’s?

  12. Jerry February 6, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    Looks good and great idea. Installed the app on a HTC desire C and seems very slow. Any more updates coming up for better performance? Or is it phoneGap issues?

  13. senthil February 17, 2014 at 2:55 am #

    Looks great, are you sharing the source?

  14. Deirdre February 20, 2014 at 2:53 am #

    Any way to invest in this app I think it’s brilliant

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  1. Best of JavaScript, HTML & CSS – Week of January 27, 2014 | Flippin' Awesome - February 4, 2014

    […] A very cool proximity-based social app called Proxxi built by Christophe Coenraets and Greg Wilson with Node.js, Cordova, Backbone and Topcoat. Proxxi, A Proximity-Based Social App […]

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