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A split flap display in Taipei station. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

LOS ANGELES — We “check in” on Foursquare much like we “check in” on flights, so why not display our Foursquare activity in classic airline style?

A screen shot of Arrivals’s clean, straightforward interface. (Image via

Tapping into old school split-flap displays, which can still be found in some train stations in the United States, designer Toby Barnes has created an iOS app concept and web site that display Foursquare check-ins like airline landings or train arrivals. Friends’ headshots appear on the right as their locations flap open with each new check-in.

Barnes developed the concept based on an app he created for his son, to let him know about his travels around the world:

Arrivals is based on a concept by Toby Barnes. Where’s Dad is a small glanceable display built for Toby’s son for use on a spare old iPhone. Whilst Toby is travelling his son asks him during phone calls where he currently is. This display constantly shows his current location, city and country based on his foursquare checkins.

The Arrivals site still needs some work. Locations with a few more characters in their names get cut off. And those with more than a half dozen Foursquare friends have to scroll endlessly to see everything. Basic info displays at, say, Baltimore Penn Station are capable of handing many more train arrivals.

But I like the concept a lot, as it distills the Foursquare experience into its basic essence: wanting to know where your friends are and what they’re up to.  It’s a great use case of Foursquare’s API. You can try it out at

A screen shot of Arrivals’s clean, straightforward interface. Image via

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An Xiao

Artist An Xiao (aka An Xiao Mina) photographs, films, installs, performs and tweets and has shown her work in publications and galleries internationally. Find her online at @anxiaostudio...