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New App Aims to Tell You Which Friends Are Worth Ditching

Savvy social hackers Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald's pplkpr app is like a social secretary for the digital age.
January 30, 2015, 6:30pm
Screencaps via

pplkpr from Lauren McCarthy on Vimeo.

Over the years, we've watched Kyle McDonald 3D print pure sound, go undercover with a tweeting surveillance lamp, and Google map tracked President Obama. Meanwhile, Lauren McCarthy crowdsourced her OkCupid interactions, manipulated our moods, and hacked faces to bust a move to a Michael Jackson groove. Now, these two savvy social hackers are digitizing coffee dates and analyzing the awkward algorithms of collegiate reunions with their newly developed, co-designed app, pplkpr.


Pplkpr’s primary purpose is to give individuals statistical insights into their social interactions. Users pair a bluetooth-enabled wristband with GPS and heart rate monitors within the iOS app to manually record their emotional reactions and measure their physical responses to personal relations. By analyzing the balance between the data from users' sympathetic and parasympathetic responses, it gives feedback on “heart rate variability.” Finally, using open data algorithms developed over the past year by researchers, clean-cut mathematics simplify messy emotions into easy-to-read icons. Beyond analyzing social statistics, pplkpr autonomously acts upon this data. If pplkpr detects heightened emotions, for instance, it can compose text messages (emojis included), schedule more dates with the people that matter, and even block or delete unwanted contacts. As the team describes on pplkpr’s website, “We are two artists that created it as a provocation, a taste of where we may be heading with our quantified living and algorithmic decision making.”

In further words, “forget fake friends, failed romance, and FOMO”—here comes a compact social secretary for the digital age.

An example of pplkpr data, courtesy the artists

Learn more about the inner workings of pplkpr on the app’s site.


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