Pond is the app that helps people make new connections. In today's technologic world, it can be hard for people to meet new people. This is evident in the sheer number of dating and friendship apps that are all trying to solve this problem. There is a fair amount of effort required to find new connections, and it can be daunting, especially for people who are new to a social environment. Online chatting often never leads to meeting up, or sometimes the people chatting are too far away for this to be feasible. Pond aims to solve the problem of meeting new people by matching people in social environment for lunch. There is no option to chat and get to know each other fully before the meeting (or potentially flake), so the lunch can be a genuine interaction.

My work for this project focused primarily on user research and front-end development with Ionic, a task I shared with group member Ben Du Preez. The front-end of Pond is an Ionic web app that can be accessed by phone or online on a computer. The backend uses Node.js to interact with the front-end and a MongoDB database.

Pond is intended for use by organizations such as colleges, companies, clubs, and other kinds of groups. Each organization can use specific log ins to promote connections between members. People are not meeting random strangers from the street-- they are connecting with people with whom they already share the similarity of organization membership.

Since this was a class project at Georgia Tech, our focus was on facilitating meetings within a college community. To begin the project, we conducted interviews with many young adults, asking them how they went about making friends in college. We also asked how people prefer to meet others, and what they think about social meetup apps that they have used (dating apps, for example).

Based on this information, we developed a few core principles that we felt were important for a functional meetup app. There should be limited interaction before the meetup, so people can get to know each other in person. There should be no swiping, so that people are more likely to say yes to a meetup, instead of swiping yes and no, and never actually committing to meet someone. The app should be as clean and easy to use as possible, while still causing its users to feel comfortable meeting up with someone new.

The resulting app is Pond. Users can set up a meeting any day that they have time. They simply select the time they are available, and Pond will match them with someone else, and give them a location to eat lunch at. Users have a profile that consists of a photo and some information about themselves, so they can find their meetup and have a bit of information to start from. They can also alert the app that they have arrived at the meetup spot, so their partner knows to look for them.

We are currently still developing this app and are carefully considering each design decision. We began with one-on-one matches because it's easy to iterate from there, and we asked many users what their optimal meetup number would be. We plan to test with varying group sizes. We also would like to make a portal for organizations to be able to tailor Pond to their needs-- specifying meetups based on department, age, or other variables. Pond will continue to evolve in the coming months.