Kompl – Be a flaneur
Kompl is a mobile app for iOS and Android that shows you what’s around you. But, it’s up to you to find it. Kompl shows you nearby venues, but obfuscates information until you get close enough. Initially only showing a direction and a distance, more and more information is revealed as you get closer.
Kompl does not provide a map and works offline, to emphasise the experience of getting to your destination, as opposed to the destination itself.
Location data is sourced from, amongst others, Foursquare, Google Places, Wikipedia, Flickr and AudioBoom.
The app is built together with Ian Barry. Roughly, Ian is responsible for the backend, with myself being responsible for the frontend and comms. The frontend, the app itself, is built in Meteor.
Kompl can mix up the virtual with the factual. By physically exploring your own city, it’s possible to virtual explore another, the app presenting you with what’s around you in your virtual location, while moving around in the city you actually physically find yourself in.
The Independent called Kompl Pokémon Go for grown-ups, saying:
Kompl works well in combining a sense of adventure and independence with technology. It incites a certain excitement about discovering new places while allowing you to remain safe in the knowledge that you can always find your way back.
More praise came from French tech magazine Widoobiz:
One of the 10 essential apps to download for 2017, Kompl is the app for those who love to get lost on their journey.
Trendhunter also put in positive words:
Kompl encourages users to take the scenic route, focussing on urban areas, landmarks and other popular attractions, without showing them how to get there, enhancing the exploratory aspect of the experience.
While guidebook sales are declining, the desire for a unique experience when traveling is stronger than ever.
Easy access to information online, and for free, allows anyone to travel to a location and readily know what they must see. But is that really what they want to see?
Tourists and travelers are more and more in search of that unique experience. But, the extensive tools available for sharing what they have seen and done while travelling make it clear that guidebooks only push us towards experiencing the lowest common denominator, unifying all ‘unique’ experiences into one.
Most of the disappointment stems from arriving in a town, city or even country that turns out to be far more touristy than anything [we] had imagined.
– Michael Glass, The Boutique Traveler
As a result, the desire for a truly one-of-a-kind experience when traveling is stronger than ever.
With Kompl, we believe that the travelling experience should focus on the journey instead of the destination.
The unique individual experience does not happen when taking a selfie in front of the Taj Mahal amid thousands of tourists, but while getting there. Taking the train from Delhi to Agra, getting from the train station in Agra to the Taj, while being accosted by the touts, or when searching for a place to eat, around the mausoleum. It’s the discovery of the people, the smells, and the unexpected attention of a cat on that street corner besides that one food stall that makes it a real, and transforming experience.
Kompl shows you venues that are around you. But it’s up to you to explore and find them.
Kompl shows you only popular and highly rated nearby destinations. Kompl only shows you where the venues are in relation to you, without presenting a map.
As a result, Kompl is a simple and engaging platform, allowing you to explore an urban environment in a casual and care-free way. Kompl was inspired by the ideals of the Situationists, whom pursued creating situations, deliberately constructed for the purpose of initiating authentic experiences, even adventure. Kompl provides a digital platform for exploring an urban space in a less planned, more surprising manner.
Kompl is created to nudge its users out of their comfort zone creating a journey that is unique while fostering a new understanding of their urban environment.
Here’s a 70 second video introducing Kompl.
Biting the dust
Kompl received positive responses from all over the world, but in the end could not compete with Pokémon Go and, perhaps, was too abstract in its implementation to gain a significant enough following and compete with the now near-ubiquitous travel-related information platforms like Google Maps, Yelp! and others.
Kompl was shut down in December 2018.
2 Replies to “Kompl – Be a flaneur”
[…] few years ago, I created an app that showed you what was around you, but left it up to you to discover the places themselves. You […]
[…] fact, when managing Kompl, we created exactly such a provision, where the map of one city could be used to explore another. […]
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