eightbit_logo_2011.jpgThe big app to come out of SXSW this week will be EightBit. Launching tomorrow, it has a new take on the social check-in trend with a distinct look and fun feel. Where could this app take you? Wherever it likes, by the look of it.

Going Old School

Taking a distinctly retro theme, EightBit is an HTML 5-powered tour de force of a social application that mixes and merges a lot of happening-now stuff and wrapping it in a unqiue, funky and fun shell. It will start out life as a web engagement check-in app that you can use to tell your FourSquare or Twitter buddies where you are.

To make things a litlte more exciting, users get coins for checking in first to a place, or finding new stuff. These will form the basis of rewards once the app and partnerships are up and running. You can use your desktop browser to try out the avatar creation program now, and use the result as your Twitter pic, but EightBit works at its best on an iPhone (Android coming soon).

You won't believe you're in a browser

Augmenting Reality

Try it on an iOS device and you can see the deceptively simple look fly in HTML 5 -- you'd barely know you're in a browser. Being a new product, not even launched yet, the scope for EightBit is massive. It could offer GroupOn-style coupons with the coins counting as extra discounts, it could replace coffeeshop loyalty schemes when you check in, it could take the form of a group meeting app -- EightBit really is a blank canvas.

Attendees to SXSW can try out the first idea, a scavenger hunt game with cute 8-bit NES memory cards as prize. If anything, EightBit will give the herd of me-too social app developers a kick in the pants and make them think about producing something original.

Introducing EightBit.Me from eightbitme on Vimeo.

Beyond that, EightBit offers something that has cult appeal, adds elements of fun to increasingly bland mobile apps and it could turn into something big indeed. That, of course, depends on the execution and investment for it to scale, something that we'll watch very closely as the app and company develop and grow.