Three local entrepreneurs are giving Kenora's tech sector a boost. They're working on an indoor positioning technology called Takemetuit that will work with apps from different stores. The technology would help you locate specific items inside a store. One of the founders, Will Major, explains where the idea came from.
"It really was born out of going into a big box store and being frustrated not being able to find something you're looking for. You spend half an hour wandering around the store trying to find an employee helping you or the product. So we thought wouldn't it be cool to have something on your phone to guide you around the store or help you search for products," he said.
Major, Tom Thomson and Caleb Carroll have been working on the indoor positioning for the past few years. The technology is the brainchild of Thomson.
Major explains one of the biggest challenges they've faced so far.
"When we started working on it we found out there's no such thing as indoor positioning technology because GPS doesn't work indoors by and large. So then we're down this whole road of researching and developing indoor positioning. So that's what we've been working on the last three years," he said.
He added that's its been difficult working on it in the Kenora area. He said they've had to look outside the region even the province to find the expertise they need to build the indoor positioning. While the finished product isn't up and running yet, Major says they're well on their way to launching the app.
"We've done a test of earlier versions but we wanted to make it more robust so we've been developing the next two versions. We're still finishing that process and we hope to do testing in an actual store in the next six months," he said.
Major says the vision is for the technology to work with a chain store, like Canadian Tire, so your phone automatically picks up on what store you're in when you walk in. It can help you find a product and then suggest other products you might be interested in.
While at first Major said many stores were hesitant to get on board, now they're all very interested in what Takemetuit can do.
"When we first started retailers were on the fence. They wanted people to wander around the store but the last year it's been a huge change. Every retailers is looking for indoor positioning and product finding apps. I think they said 50 per cent of large retailers in the US will be testing some sort of indoor positioning system this year. So they know that's the future it's just a matter of who gets there first," he said.
Major also explained how their technology is different from the existing apps that bring up deals and sales on your phone when you walk into the store.
"With the current technology stores are using beacons. So when you walk near it it will flash you a coupon for example. The difference with our technology is that we can actually guide you to a product it's much more accurate. The current technology relies on you getting near the beacon whereas ours is GPS basically," he said.
The indoor positioning technology received $48,270 last week from FedNor at the Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Coporation AGM.