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Researchers at MIT have teamed up with The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values to launch an iPhone app called 20 Day Stranger, which connects two anonymous strangers for 20 days.The idea for the app was born out of the desire to build something that would encourage mindfulness in our self-involved culture.

Using software like Google Maps and Foursquare, the app, which is currently in its testing phase, picks up all of the ambient signals of a user’s daily life. For example, if you were in a taxi driving down Broadway in Manhattan, the app would send your “partner” a Google Streetview of your driving path, as well as images of nearby storefronts, to give the other person a feel for your surroundings.

Another point is that the app is completely anonymous, meaning the two strangers will never know each other’s identity throughout the entire 20-day period. However, they can send each other a text message at the end of the 20 days to stay in touch or bye bye.

I think the idea is a great way to broaden your horizon, and meet different people from all cultures across the world, especially if you can’t afford travelling, yet eager to discover what’s going out there, and potentially meet your next “international friend”.  My only worry is we’re assuming that the person is genuine and the app won’t be turning into a mini “chat roulette” where nothing interesting is going on, or maybe you could be matched with a rude stranger “intimately” …or something like that… But overall, I think this is worth giving a try.

The app is launching in the next 3 months, but the curious can sign up for a trial phase on

There’s always something going on at the MIT Media Lab. I like to check all their current research and projects on their website – MIT Playful systems