You could make friends the old fashioned way, with casual introductions, eye contact and other intrinsically human social skills; or you could just sit back and let MagnetU do all the heavy lifting for you. The Israeli startup, founded in 2010, has just unveiled what it calls a "proximity networking" device -- a tiny accessory that connects users to other like-minded people within their immediate vicinity
. Within this lightweight gadget lies information on a user's "social desires," which can be customized and modified depending on a given situation. If you're at a networking event, for example, you can activate your "business" profile, before switching into the grossly mistitled "social" mode once you walk into a bar. Once activated, the device will automatically scan for other users within your area, comparing your data against theirs. If it finds a match, both misfits will be notified with a text message that provides details on their level of compatibility. At that point, it's up to you to exchange furtive glances and do the whole "Come here often?" Kabuki routine. The tool could also open up new marketing avenues for retailers, though MagnetU plans to begin rolling out its $24 device at college campus events, where more traditional social lubricants are few and far between.