Q&A with Paul Davison, Founder and CEO of Highlight

If you've been following the news about SXSW 2012, you've surely heard of Highlight, the location-based social network startup that's all abuzz at the SXSW Interactive conference down in Austin, Texas. LAPTOP Magazine sat down with Paul Davison, CEO of Highlight, to get a walkthrough of the app's features and the founder's insights on the direction and uses of the app.

The premise of the Highlight app is straightforward: Essentially, it's a location-based networking app. That's nothing new. But what Highlight does differently — which hasn't been popularized in a big way with apps before it — is it shares your location and profile in real-time, so you can see people you have things in common with while you're simply walk around a city (or a big convention like SXSW).

It's a step away from other location-based apps, which used to be focused on users actively checking in at places to let their friends know they've been there. In contrast, Highlight does what it says is "passive location monitoring" — that is, the app simply runs in your smartphone's background and sends you push notifications when you're within range of another user with whom you have strong Facebook connections. (The app integrates with your Facebook account before you can start using it.) Highlight will pull things from your profile like interests, life history and common friends, and ping you when you have multiple things in common with someone nearby.

The idea, presumably, is to diminish instances of wasted social opportunities with people. But people need to be open to being discovered by others before Highlight can become beneficial. Is this a tenable goal? We asked Davison some questions about how he envisioned the app in real-world use.