ZOKU

About Zoku

Let’s face it. It’s not easy to meet new people. Waiting to get onto a flight, everyone is busy with their smart phones or listening to music. Walk into a bar, people are talking to the people they walked in with, watching the TV on in the corner, or staring at their phone. In the hotel lobby, there are a bunch of people sitting around, but it’s impossible to know who is open to a conversation, let alone who you have anything in common with. How do you know if you the person shares your interest, and that you will be able to start a conversation at all?

“Mobile device use is making humans more interested in their online lives, and less interested in each other.”

This is where Zoku comes in.

Zoku is the smartphone app whose goal is to get you to put down your phone as often as possible. It is way to "find your kind" in the moment. It connects you with individuals in your immediate surroundings who are just as crazy about their passions and hobbies as you are! You simply have to join your tribes by downloading the appropriate stickers, and when someone around you has the same sticker, Zoku notifies you and helps you meet!

You join tribes by downloading tribe stickers which each contain a Universal Unique Identifier (UUID) that Bluetooth LE uses to broadcast and scan for discovery. This insures that no matter what tribe you are in, ONLY those who are in your tribe and within 300 feet of you will know about it. This means you won’t be restricted to chatting online, but to converse in real life.

Why Zoku is important.

“We never look up anymore.”

We love the Internet.

We love our smartphones.

Technology has improved our lives in countless ways.

Except one.

Social interactions

The concept of social interaction has undergone what one may call a ‘drastic’ evolution. We have moved from face-to-face conversations and real life networking to positioning ourselves behind a laptop or a phone screen, tapping into the keyboards making friends. The Tumblr blog “We Never Look Up” articulates it beautifully:

“The world has gone mobile. We live in an information society... and that has changed how we as people behave. We never look up anymore.”

Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, says:

“Technology is distracting us from our real-world relationships. People are concentrating so much on the social media interactions and have failed to look at the face-to-face interaction which is the best method of interaction.”

While social media does have many advantages, it also brings many negatives. For instance, research suggests that social media usage results in isolation and awkwardness when it comes to real physical interaction with people. One becomes so accustomed to ‘socializing’ behind a computer screen, that he/she loses the ability to communicate effectively in real life and to maintain real-life conversations and relationships. As described by CNBC:

“Concerns are growing that the practical impact of mobile device use is making humans more interested in their online lives, and less interested in each other.”
“One becomes so accustomed to ‘socializing’ behind a computer screen, that he/she loses the ability to communicate effectively in real life and to maintain real-life conversations and relationships.”

One may argue that social interactions, be it through virtual platforms or real life, are the same. What matters is making friends, and the fact whether it happens with or without a computer or phone is irrelevant. However, this is not specifically so. The Wall Street journal raises this question:

“We spend so much time maintaining superficial connections online that we aren’t dedicating enough time or effort to cultivating deeper real-life relationships”... “While we may have hundreds of Facebook friends—people we never would have met otherwise, with whom we can share many new things—do they really provide the kind of human interaction that is so essential to our emotional health”

Existing social media platforms and the user profiles do not necessarily portray the truth. They are - in many cases - an over exaggerated account of one’s ‘amazing life’. Being constantly exposed to such self-expressions can lower one’s self esteem, induce stress and inflict mental illnesses.

Alone in the crowd by the American Psychology Association sums it up well:

“People today are more connected to one another than ever before in human history, thanks to Internet-based social networking sites and text messaging. But they’re also more lonely and distant from one another in their unplugged lives”

Moreover, real-life relationships offer a stronger and more reliable support system. They allow real conversations, helps one learn from experience and to engage with society. This engagement goes beyond the surface level engagement that occurs on social media. Newsweek touches on this issue:

“The creative power of meeting eyeball to eyeball”.. “The deep, often unconscious elements of in-person interaction are more important than language...What matters are the many ways we connect only when we’re physically together.”

Then what makes Zoku different?

“Zoku was created to get people talking”

Zoku is built on values aligned with the SlowTech movement, which describes itself by saying:

“Whilst not at all against the use of technology, it is an attempt to explore and try to understand some of problems arising due to the continued (over)use of technology"

We believe in the simple concept of utilizing technology for social benefit. With Zoku, you use your phone to put down your phone.

“Because life is about new adventures - and turning away from your smartphone is the first step.”

Zoku was created to get people talking and to complement other social media sites. Zoku is about finding your tribe. It encourages the users to find people with similar likes and dislikes, as opposed to ‘finding friends’ through a mechanical algorithm. Once you find your match on Zoku, you then have the ability to strike up a real conversation - which is made easier by the fact that you have a topic of common interest. This is the best way to make new friends- wherever you might be.

Zoku, therefore, encourages you to take a break from your social media applications, and move on to some real conversation.

Because life is about new adventures - and turning away from your smartphone is the first step.