Startup and App Roundup: Vidoovy, TelTech, UsMeU, sRide and TravAlarm
Vidoovy: Vidoovy, the West Orange startup created to revive downtown shopping districts by encouraging people to live and shop local, has now launched in Bloomfield Township. This is the third town for Vidoovy, which started in West Orange and then expanded to Montclair.
Vidoovy is a geo-located video platform that directs local residents away from the big-box stores and huge online sellers back to small shops that are nearby. To help reach these local residents, it offers a “Community Video Map,” which is linked to the community’s township website.
“We are proud to announce that Bloomfield Township has passed a resolution to engage Vidoovy to build a Community Video Map for them as well,” said Vidoovy founder Patrick Sutherland. “We will begin shooting their initial 10 free community videos in April, and their map will launch this summer.”
TelTech: A bootstrapped, telecom-focused company called “TelTech Systems” (South Amboy) has just released “TrapCall,” an app to combat telephone scammers. When TrapCall subscribers receive a call, they use their phone’s call-forwarding feature to send the call to TrapCall. Even if the call is blocked, indicating “no caller ID,” “restricted,” “private,” or “unknown,” TrapCall will ring back the call unmasked and provide blacklisting options.
Other features — including name-and-address caller ID, voicemail transcription, and even call recording — provide TrapCall users with a full suite of protective services. The company says that the system works well at unmasking con artists, such as those behind a current scam that starts with a call from blocked or spoofed caller ID, with the con artist identifying him or herself as an IRS agent. Victims are told they are liable for back taxes and must make an immediate payment to avoid legal action.
UsMeU: The UsMeU compatibility tester is an app created by JuiceTank (Somerset) member Kevin Hawkins. It uses the IBM Watson cognitive system to answer the age-old question: Is Bill Gates compatible with Kim Kardashian?
The app can extract cognitive and social characteristics from Tweets and open text, Hawkins said. It can analyze Twitter posts or compare two Twitter-account results to each other. Users can then share their results via Twitter, Facebook or email. Watson’s artificial intelligence is trained to use linguistic analytics to discern cognitive and social characteristics from Twitter tweets or text data, including the “Big Five” personality traits, as well as needs and values.
UsMeU is available at the iPhone App store. This video shows it in action.
sRide: The social carpooling startup sRide is the brainchild of Lakshna Jha, a Hoboken resident who said that the idea came to her one winter when she decided that she no longer wanted to wait for the bus on Washington Street. Jha added there were many times when she had gone to an event, for example at the Prudential Center, only to find out later that her friends had been there too, and could have carpooled and saved money on parking.
Jha researched carpooling apps and websites that were already on the market, but found that they were old-fashioned and had few users. She surveyed some 500 people to see if they would be interested in a new carpooling app, and they responded that they would be interested if she could make it easy to use. The company launched in Hoboken on March 1.
This carpooling service is now available on Android and iPhone, but the story’s about much more than a new app. This app was built to be easy to use. “You can register in about 20 seconds,” said Jha. And it’s “freakishly fast in matching passengers with drivers,” according to the sRide website.
This app was also built to ensure safety. The company screens the drivers to make sure they drive safely and don’t have a record. After a ride, users can review their drivers; sRide has “set up complex algorithms” to track drivers’ ratings for past rides, Jha explained. There is also a feature called “Ride Tracker,” which enables users to check where their ride is in real time while they’re waiting to be picked up.
Jha added that sRide could benefit society by reducing the amount of traffic on the road, lowering the overall gas expenditure in the economy and allowing users to meet new people and discover new perspectives.
TravAlarm: One of the winners of the MTA-AT&T App Quest 3.0 contest was New Jersey resident Nikki Kurzynowski, who is part of a team, mostly based in London and San Francisco, which developed TravAlarm. The app received the Runner-up Prize ($5,000) for the Best Consumer/Transit Rider App, as well as the prize for Best Crowdsourcing App ($5,000).
TravAlarm is a free download for Android and iOS 8 devices. It’s a smartphone journey planner specifically built to alert commuters to delays along their commuting routes, and to wake them up at a predetermined earlier time when there are disruptions in train or bus service. The app also sends out notifications when users are prepping for appointments, to spare them the hassle of running late or, even worse, being forced to stand out in the cold while waiting for a bus.
Future plans include adding NJ Transit lines and the George Washington Bridge to the app, as well as the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels. The team is also working on ways to use the app to improve accessibility for disabled and special-needs commuters.
Forty-three teams from ten countries submitted their apps to the App Quest 3.0 contest. Seven of them received cash prizes and one received an honorable mention.