MeetBall App Helps Football Fans Find Tailgates
Frustrated by spending football game days on his phone in futile attempts to guide friends and family to his specific location, Ryan Owen, a Penn State graduate, realized there must be a better solution.
With that mixture of exasperation and determination that fuels many great creations, Owen created a mobile app that, in his words, “turns users’ smartphones into a Friend Finder.”
“We make it easy to securely share your location for a limited period of time by simplifying GPS and compass technology,” Owen said. Simply, if one wants to find a friend’s tailgate in the vast cow pastures that surround Beaver Stadium, he or she must receive a virtual invite – a “MeetBall” – from that friend, and a presentable arrow will guide this thirsty tailgater in the right direction.
“MeetBall is meant to help maximize the time spent in tailgating utopia,” Owen said.
MeetBall first came out in November 2011 and has a team of twelve programmers and promoters, half of which are Penn State graduates. “This app was created by Penn Staters, for Penn Staters, first and foremost,” Owen said.
Though he graduated with a degree in Information Sciences in 1999, the programming languages and systems have drastically changed in the past fifteen years, and Owen walked into the app development world with little applicable know-how. Fortunately, Owen’s brother Matt had both software development and tailgating experience, and took over the technical reigns of the project.
“Matt went to Notre Dame so he understands the tailgating scene, which helps as we work through the MeetBall user experience,” Owen said.
The beta version came out before this year’s Blue and White game. Since then, Owen’s team has been gathering feedback in advance for MeetBall’s official, full-scale launch in November.
While in theory an app that can effortlessly bring friends and family together in congested areas sounds like a sure success, there are obvious difficulties. On game days, Beaver Stadium has notoriously poor cell service, and the surrounding areas have no Wi-Fi. According to Owen, this issue was solved in the beta version.
“In all but the worst situations, this will allow the app to function even in low bandwidth environments and we have successfully tested it at events comparable to a Penn State game,” Owen said. “We’ve constructed MeetBall to work with the current state of bandwidth at events. I don’t want to give away too much about how we solved the problem, but hopefully the users appreciate the effort that went into it come November!”
If MeetBall can overcome dodgy cell service and successfully guide drunk, cold, and hungry football fans through the expanses that surround the stadium to their respective tailgates, users will certainly appreciate all of the hard work that went into the app’s development come November.