Build a Bridge to make real-world friends
Mobile app Bridge is a friend finder with a tweak, focusing on what you like to do rather than what you say.
Despite the access inherent in social networks, it can be tough to find someone who actually wants to go out and do something.
So assert Paul Lutkajtis and Michael Lutkajtis, a pair of Sydney-based brothers who found that their friends' schedules didn't always match up with theirs.
"I had just relocated back to Sydney after five years in California and was looking to rebuild my social circle," Paul Lutkajtis told CNET. "My brother Michael was in a similar situation where he had a lot of friends working shift work or had different agendas and struggled to find mutually convenient times to catch up. We both found ourselves with an inherent gap in our lives to meet new, like-minded people in real life. Not just people who shared common interests, but people who want to do what we want to do, when we want to do it."
Their solution was Bridge -- a free app for iOS and Android, which offers a point of difference from existing social network products on the market: it's based around looking for activity buddies -- anything from going to the gym, grabbing lunch, or hitting up a convention.
"We realised that most of the existing 'social networking' products on the market were either focused on online connections (rather than real world connections), dating, or joining a large, pre-existing group or club get-togethers," Lutkajtis explained. "There was nothing out there for the individual who was simply looking to fill a gap in their social network."
How it works is pretty simple. Say you want someone to play tennis with. You enter the app, using Facebook to log in, and use the form to fill out where, when, and what you want to do. This is then posted to the Bridge map, where others can respond.
Conversely, if you're at a loose end and are looking for something to do, you can browse other Bridges posted, using your phone's location services to find people near you.
"Bridge's primary focus is on creating new, real-world connections and offline experiences in a personalised setting," Lutkajtis said. "Bridge focuses on the individual and empowers each user to find who they want to know, so they can do what they want to do, when they want."
Because it's flexible, the app can be whatever the user wants it to be. While the focus is on making friends, it can also be used for other kinds of socialising -- if, for example, you want to start a supper club, you can specify that you're looking to create a regular event.
"Users are telling us that bridge is the 'missing link' in a sea of online networking and dating applications. It provides them with a method to meet new, like-minded people in real life without the stigma or attachment that may come with meeting people through other apps or online mediums. They like it precisely because it is not a dating app," Lutkajtis said.
The brothers themselves are finding that their app absolutely works for them, too.
"Aside from the personal connections that we have made through the creation of our own bridges and the fun of attending other user's bridges -- there has been a great sense of personal fulfillment watching as other people make new, genuine connections and get out and about in the real world," Lutkajtis added. " There have been some great stories of people going to events or doing activities that they have always wanted to do. The disconnectedness of society is a worldwide problem, and we feel that through every bridge we are contributing to a more connected and social world."