That scrabbling sound you're hearing is social networking clawing its way into the real world in the form of MagnetU, a social proximity gadget.
MagnetU is a tiny $24 device that travels along with you and seeks out other MagnetU users. If two social profiles are a good fit, it will notify users of each other's proximity.
Here's how it works. Load up the MagnetU application, create a set of "social desires," and hook it up with Facebook and Twitter. The gadget connects with your phone using Bluetooth.
Hit the bars or wander down the street. When social desires mesh, you get a message on your phone that ranks the match as "attractive," "hot," or "red-hot."
Clinking two MagnetU devices together links up your social profiles so you can stay connected with your new BFF after you've parted ways.
This sounds like a natural fit for the club and dating scene, but it could also come into play as a business-networking tool for large conferences or events. CES, anyone?
MagnetU's success hinges on enough people adopting it. I don't expect to wander over to my local watering hole in Albuquerque and suddenly have five new MagnetU friends anytime soon.
MagnetU will get a test launch at a couple of yet-to-be-named college campuses in early 2012.