Brett Martin shows off the new Sonar app he created. /Thomas Melville/Daily Times
OCEAN CITY -- When asked how he came up with the concept behind his new iPhone app, Sonar, company founder Brett Martin started talking about Ocean City.
"You've got that small-town feeling, but it's hyper-socialized," said 28-year-old Martin, who now lives in New York.
"It uncovers the hidden connections you share with people nearby," Martin said.
Sonar uses information from sites such as Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter to show users how they are connected to other people who are checked in at the same location.
"It canvasses the Internet for people who have declared themselves there," he said.
It then provides the user with a list of the other people at the location and how they are relevant -- whether they share Facebook friends, went to the same college or like the same bands.
While it functions best at locations such as concerts and conferences where there are large numbers of people, Sonar works anywhere that people might be hanging out, Martin said. He theorized Seacrets during Fourth of July weekend would be a good spot for Sonar.
"You'll meet all sorts of people you'd never have known," Martin said.
Since being launched five weeks ago, Sonar -- a free app -- has attracted tens of thousands of users, Martin said.
Merle Marsh, director of special projects at Worcester Preparatory School, said she's not surprised Martin came up with such an innovative product. Martin, who attended Dartmouth College after Worcester Prep, was also a Fulbright Fellow, Marsh said, studying in Italy.
Martin said his early teachers at Worcester Prep and even his summer employers at Malibu's Surf Shop helped get him to where he is now.
"They were the ones telling me to do what I wanted to do, and that's what I'm doing," he said.