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This App Lets You Share Your Life with a Stranger for 20 Days

Imagine intimately watching the life of a stranger on the other side of the world from the palm of your hand. A new app will soon let people do just that.

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. Though the idea may sound a little stalker-ish, the makers say the intention is to inspire empathy and awareness.

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.

The app sends just enough evidence of your life so that your partner can imagine it.  The app is completely anonymous, meaning the two strangers will never know each other’s identity throughout the entire 20-day period. Anonymity, though, can have its downfalls: People may showcase a side or — ahem — a part of themselves they normally would never reveal in real life.

That’s why the app’s creators decided against allowing direct messaging. However, at the end of the 20-day period each person has the opportunity to send one message. It could be a question, contact info to stay in touch, or just a farewell.

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