By Katie McQuater, Magazine Editor

August 5, 2014 | 3 min read

Neuroscientist Dr Beau Lotto has partnered with a team of mobile designers to create Traces, an 'immersive messaging' app which lets people leave messages for each other in real-world locations.

Using GPS, augmented reality and peer-to-peer messaging, the app enables users to leave 'traces' – pieces of content including videos, pictures and music – hidden in the real world for friends to discover.

The app – an example of neurodesign – follows Lotto's research into human perception, which found that when people have to work harder to receive a message or a gift, they appreciate it more, as opposed to being what Lotto describes as "passive recipients".

He said: "Because so much of digital is passive and we're just passive recipients of stuff, and so frequently receivers of that stuff, we don't see it as being valuable.

“Our research shows that people rate content received through Traces as better and more meaningful than the same content received through conventional messaging apps. It also increases their sense of closeness to the person or brand sending it.

“When you understand how the human brain processes information, you can begin to design mobile and social experiences that actually bring people closer together, increase well-being and to re-engage with the real world. Rather than a repetitive and instantly forgotten click, Traces requires the brain to embark on a process of discovery, generating dopamine and generating empathy between connections."

The platform is partnering with brands in the publishing, retail and music space. Discussing how brands could use the app to engage with audiences in location specific ways, Lotto told The Drum:

"The app's principle motivation is to foster relationships through experience, and in many respects that what brands are looking to do.

"It's person to person – it's not a broadcast platform, it's a private platform, but brands can have access to that because they can create a network. The branded content is actually sent person to person, from friend to friend, as opposed to the brand broadcasting."

Lotto spoke on the importance of meaning and context for brands at The Drum Live last month. Read more or watch the full session below.

Lotto is also speaking at The Drum's 'The Joy of CX' conference on 16 October. More information on the event, including information on how to book tickets, is available on 'The Joy of CX' website.

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