Proximity marketing on mobile phones is hot, hot, hot and Pittsburgh's OmniProx is stepping up with a unique approach.
The idea is to deliver information to mobile phones when and where it's needed, says Bob DiGioia, chief innovation officer of the Carnegie Mellon spinout. Say Panera has a surplus of bagels one day that it wants to unload. Panera sends a reward to mobile customers in the immediate vicinity, offering bagels at a discount, and customers flock into the store.
The idea is to send the messages through "Impact Zones," a virtual area that appears on mobiles that have been initialized to respond to a given location. "We're the only system that's truly a push technology," he adds. "As soon as you enter the zone, we push you the information that you can use here and now. You can look at it and act on it right away."
OmniProx was founded by three partners in addition to DiGioia, a Carnegie Mellon grad: Robert Petrilli, formerly of WQED Multimedia, and Ananada Gunawardena and Aaron Tan, both with ties to Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. The group was previously working on delivering information to mobiles via Bluetooth when GPS technology emerged.
Unlike other smartphone apps, which often require users to log on for access, OmniProx users initialize their smartphone through a free download. This enables customers to receive information on deals when they're within a one mile radius of an Impact Zone such as high-end incentives and rewards, emergency notices or tourism information, to name a few. Zones can be as small as one-tenth of a mile radius around a business or as large as North America.
The concept also puts decisions in the hands of businesses, adds DiGioia. A "smart sensor" allows them to program messages for days when inventories are high. While still in development, OmniProx is working with the Monroeville Chamber of Commerce on a regional zone for Monroeville for possible launch this summer.
"Imagine what we can do with Kennywood and the Pittsbugh Zoo," he muses. "…or Disney World!"
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Bob DiGioia, OmniProx