Foursquare has announced a new feature called Hypertrending that allows users to keep an eye on popular places using a top-down heat map view. Hypertrending will be limited to users in Austin, Texas until March 21. As a result, the company has enough time to understand what users think about Hypertrending and whether to continue the development.
In an age where risks to a user's privacy and data safety are at an all-time high, this feature could raise some serious concerns too. As The Verge points out, Hypertrending will allow users to see "how many (or how few) people are packed into space." So in case something bad is about to happen, its impact won't be limited to Foursquare users.
Apparently, Foursquare is aware of these obvious privacy risks and concerns, which sort of explains the reason behind its limited access.
"We realize location data is different than data about books and music – location data is some of the most sensitive data there is. And we’re aware that Hypertrending walks a fine line between being “creepy” and “cool”.
Seeing the bigger picture, Foursquare is looking to evolve more into a platform into a “base map of the world.” Foursquare might be able to create a business model out of it such as analysing trends in location tracking and selling their technology to third-parties.
Hypertrending is based on Foursquare’s “Pilgrim” technology. By making use of such a technology, Foursquare will be able to collect and analyse the location data on millions of places around the world. The data comes from Foursqaure apps and other apps based on Foursquare's technology.
Hypertrending lets users see the movement of people in one cluster using a heat map, without revealing details about individual users.
"We made Hypertrending to show people how Foursquare’s panel works in terms of what it can do (and what it will not do), as well as to show people how we as a company think about navigating this space."