Sonar CEO Brett Martin to Speak at Mobile Madness NY

11/21/12Follow @jpruth

For all the power crammed into mobile devices, there are more ways we can use them to connect with the world immediately around us. Many people already turn to their smartphones to find retailers, restaurants, and driving directions. We also use these gadgets to update friends in our social networks on our day-to-day activities, regardless of how frivolous.

The point is, mobile devices have become personal hubs for our lives. Through the technology of New York-based Sonar, smartphones can help users discover points of interest relevant to them and even potential new contacts—sometimes, literally just around the corner.

CEO Brett Martin says Sonar was born out of the tedium of trying to figure out what to do after work as well as discover if any friends happened to be nearby. “I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just walk out the door and have my phone tell me what was most interesting around me using all the information I had added to the Web,” he says. The Sonar app leverages info users choose to share and can post updates to their Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.

Given the wealth of information many people already share online about their friends, where they work, and individual tastes, it makes some sense to want to leverage that content to discover information that is useful in the real world. “We view Sonar as a tool that connects you to the most relevant people, places, or things near you,” Martin says.

You can learn more about Sonar’s plans at Xconomy’s Mobile Madness NY conference on Dec. 4, when Martin joins other innovators and leaders from New York’s mobile scene to discuss the sector’s future. Check out the full agenda here, and make sure to act now to get the best price on tickets for this half-day conference.

Sonar isn’t alone in trying to forge a new way of connecting the troves of location data that mobile users are generating. After Sonar debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC in May 2011, the startup quickly found itself surrounded by would-be rivals. “The concept was new and then 40 other companies started doing it,” Martin says.

While rivals have been shaken out of the market, Sonar continues to soldier on.

Martin says personalized product recommendations based on users’ social media and Internet identities may be in Sonar’s future. Will that be the key to this startup’s success? You can hear more from Martin himself on Dec. 4—we’ll see you there.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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