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Brief Updated: 8 Aug 2014

Traces: Location-Based Messaging

Traces aims to make messaging more meaningful

Traces is an app that aims to make messaging more meaningful by enabling people to leave digital messages in physical locations for their friends to retrieve.

Using a combination of geo-location and augmented reality, the app allows users to leave messages or pieces of multimedia content for others at specific locations. When recipients reach the correct GPS location, they use their phone screen to locate a floating bubble – popping the bubble unveils the secret "trace" left for them.

Users can decide how long to leave the trace active for, and can send anything from video clips to concert tickets via the app.

Created by Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist from University College London in the UK, the concept aims to add real-world context to the messaging experience. "Our research shows that people rate content received through Traces as better and more meaningful than the same content received through conventional messaging apps," he told online media and marketing publication The Drum.

The app, currently in beta and only available in the UK, is already partnering with brands across publishing, music and retail. From geo-pegged retail deals to context-sensitive content – such as free book excerpts available in famous literary settings – the commercial potential is huge.  

For more on the future of messaging, take a look at The State of Mobile: Summer 2014.