The social network for the real world


Our current smartphone connects you with as many digital services as possible. Those digital apps create data about you. All kinds of organisations buy your data to get better in selling you more of their products. Or their ideas. This profitable business model isolates people to stay passive users and consumers addicted to virtual realities. This, while we need people to be active citizens focused on reshaping the real world. To break free from that model we need a radically different type of toolset. Onlive is a design for the first tool of that toolset. One that we can use to build the other tools. One that we can use to get started on the right foot.


Onlive is a space between the online and offline world. There you can interact with other citizens within the world you share with them. It’s an app that acts as an operating system for groups of people, together at any given point in time and space. It can run software programs, has a file system, and an interface. It runs on a mesh-network protocol in each group you are part of. Onlive does not depend on the internet, since it is only for people that are near to each other. Our smart devices are perfectly equipped to communicate to nearby other devices without using any form of internet. In those networks citizens have full control over their identity and data. We’ve designed an User Interface specifically for that purpose. To understand how all this is possible we dive in the three core elements of Onlive: groups, plugins and cards. After that we can understand Onlive as one system: a network technology that allows citizens to create, use and maintain transient social networks in their own local communities.

Below, we present the first Official Smartup Business Plan (OBSP). With your help, this vision can become reality.


From one user that can be anywhere to a group of citizens that are somewhere. 


To fulfil our mission, our strategy centres on four objectives


Create a network for groups of nearby smart devices


Give people full control over their data and content in their groups


Facilitate relevant and impactful functionality inside these groups


Become and remain an independent tool in the hands of the people


Create a network for groups of nearby smart devices

With Onlive, we create Transient Social Networks(TSN) that enrich and support social group collaborations in a physical environment, invoking social action and knowledge sharing between citizens, local business owners and local governments.


“A transient social network is a community of users with mobile devices engaging in social activities of common interest within a specific temporal and geographical locality.”– Lateef Yusuf, Umakishore Ramachandran, School of Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology. 


In Onlive, TSNs are groups of users sharing a physical context. Onlive app users automatically become part of these groups if they share a venue, together with staff and other guests. Groups can be small or big; theoretically, there could be a group for an entire city.

New technologies are being developed to create these groups, free of internet-connectivity and data privacy concerns, allowing reliable information networks that we can use to connect with our communities


  1. Audio Trilateration as an Acoustic Positioning System (APS)
    To authenticate your presence and physical proximity within a group among nearby smart devices.

      • Learn more about this Onlive R&D project

  2. Mesh Networking:
    A data-distribution system among nearby smart devices to give you what you need, when you need it.
      • Learn more about this Onlive R&D project

  3. Context Engine
    A group-forming agent for nearby smart devices to determine if a group is relevant to a user.
      • Learn more about this Onlive R&D project


Creating meaning in your Onlive groups

Plugins are lightweight, group-specific web apps that support a safe and enjoyable experience. They are automatically installed on the smart devices of group members to facilitate interaction

Examples of plugins include:

  • members filling in questionnaire together
  • members keeping in compliance with active, local social distancing measures
  • keeping track of how many people are inside a venue
  • allowing members to order and pay
  • a city heatmap highlighting busy areas
  • member file sharing”

Interactions: how plugins work

Plugins are downloaded automatically on a user device when they enter a group, and removed when they leave Users don’t interact with plugins, they interact with each other through them.


Interactions aren’t just among group members. Mostly interactions take place between local business owners and their visitors. An example is a cafe owner tracking social distancing amongst his visitors, with the plugin assisting him to keep people at a safe distance.

How to make a plugin

Each distinct interaction requires a specific plugin. Plugins are developed by third parties using an Onlive plugin, the Software Development Kit.

A plugin is essentially a web app. Anyone able to use HTML, CSS & Java can easily develop plugins for their communities.

Plugins may be installed by Group Owners i.e. business, venue & event owners, who also control plugin access for their patrons

In order to provide a structure which allows people to deal with all those different plugins in all those different groups, we introduced the concept of an Onlive Card. 


Handing control of data and content back to the people

Onlive’s User Experience (UX) design is at the heart of building the trust required to become a tool that people will use to improve their communities. To allow full user control over data, content, sharing and identity, we’ve created a brand new content format exclusive to our network: The Onlive Card


An Onlive Card is the document that is handled by the plugin software. The Card is dealt to members, allowing them to interact with plugins inside their group

Experiencing a plugin: how Onlive Cards work

An Onlive Card represents a piece of data handled by a plugin. They may be published, used, made, shared, saved and edited. A Card is a virtual object allowing information and functionalities to be made quickly recognizable and shareable within groups.

The plugin determines how card information is represented to members. Each plugin is associated with one type of Card. A group that allows multiple plugins also requires multiple” Card types.

Primary current Card types within groups include:


  • Identity Cards: allows members to control identity
  • Social Distance Cards: allows members to recognise and comply with local rules
  • Document Cards: share documents
  • Presentation Cards: broadcast content to screens
  • Questionnaire Cards: perform polls
  • Object Cards: interact with smart objects

It's a game of cards!

Onlive is meant to be easily usable and fun. That’s why the UX is designed on physical and social behaviours we are familiar with and enjoy i.e. a game of cards.

Within a group, a player can take cards off the table (The Stage), add them to their hand (The Hand), play them (publish on stage) or stack them (Keep Card Nearby) or own them (Save).

We have chosen Cards as a core UX element as they are controllable, interchangeable and collectable. We believe people will grasp the system naturally, as most of us know how to play card games, or are able to be taught quickly.

The Card UX has many advantages:

  1. Easy and fun, like playing a game of cards with your friends
  2. Lightweight – just a few MB of data is on each Card, allowing offline interactions using mesh networking
  3. Fast, simple interactions with a card means minimised device interaction, and more interaction with the humans around us.
  4. Double-sided – providing quick insight into the origin and purpose of each card”
Smartup Zero logo


Becoming an independent tool in the hands of the people, and staying there

Building something this pioneering, complex and trustworthy is as much of a social challenge as it is a technical one.


Whilst the implementation of emerging technologies such as blockchain and decentralized mesh networks is key to preserving privacy around digital tools, it isn’t sufficient to create the trust required amongst people.


To achieve this trust, we utilize the Smartup method, allowing people and organizations worldwide to become owners, workers and governors of the Onlive platform.

By making the most out of our collective smarts and skills, we can work with with the best technologies and knowledge frameworks to take complex and urgent challenges. A Tool FOR the people, BY the people.