DEARBORN — Want to know where the best nearby deals are for pizza, an oil change, or tickets to your favorite event before it’s too late and you’ve driven past? Now it’s possible, with the release of Roximity, a real-time, location-aware alert service that lets users know of surrounding deals and specials.
On Wednesday, Roximity, winner of the Ford Sync App Developer Challenge at the 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, launched its new app for iOS devices. The app is compatible with Sync AppLink, Ford’s hands-free, voice-controlled mobile connectivity technology.
“The launch of Roximity is truly exciting for us, since it was the Sync in-car experience that sparked the team to go from idea to reality,” said Doug VanDagens, global director of Ford Connected Services. “Finding and supporting startups like Roximity is what will keep Ford at the forefront of in-car connectivity innovations. With Roximity we become the first automaker to offer a personalized daily deal location service.”
Roximity enables registered users to input individual preferences and interests. Then, as users drive, walk or bike past a restaurant or store that might have a deal or special they would find appealing, a push notification is sent to their phone informing them of what they are near.
With Sync AppLink compatibility, Roximity provides a convenient way to improve a consumer’s time behind the wheel while running errands. When drivers connect their phone to Sync via USB and activate AppLink, they can simply use their voice to ask Roximity for any special deals nearby within designated retail categories, including restaurants, home services, spas and salons, and men’s or women’s clothing.
“While driving, users can simply say, ‘lunch deals,’ and their favorite lunch options will be read out loud,” says Danny Newman, co-founder and CEO of Roximity. “Other deal services offer coupons for the entire metropolitan area or for things that are not relevant to you. Roximity is personalized and will provide you what you want, when you want it.”
As winner of the Sync App Developer Challenge at the 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, Roximity was given access by Ford to the company’s Sync AppLink application programming interface so the team could integrate its new idea to be compatible with the in-vehicle connectivity system.
In 2011, Roximity was nothing more than a seed of an idea scribbled in a notebook. When Newman and his partners Austin Gayer and Joe Mease showed up at the TechCrunch Hackathon, they knew they wanted to develop that idea. They saw Ford was title sponsor of the event and looking for the next big idea, and everything just clicked.
“This app is really complemented by the car,” Newman explains. “We know that when you are on the road and on the go, you may want to know the best deals for food, gas and shopping. Or, you may be on a trip and don’t know the area and just need to take a quick break. Roximity helps make the most of your time. It is like your own personal intelligent sidekick.”
Roximity is the first app to have AppLink compatibility at its initial launch.
“It’s great to be a part of Roximity from the beginning,” says Stefan Bankowski, Ford Sync AppLink engineer. “When they pitched the idea, we knew this had the potential to be a driver’s best friend. Adding voice control to check for deals and specials adds a layer of convenience to driving, and allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”
The eight-person Roximity team was recently selected for the TechStars entrepreneurial business accelerator program in Boulder, Colo. Of the more than 1,200 companies that applied, only 12 were chosen. The program invests up to $118,000 in each company, and the three-month curriculum provides intense mentoring and guidance. The culmination of the program is a demo day in which investors view the companies, hear pitches from the teams, then decide whether to contribute more to the startup business.
Roximity is a free app and service that lets users choose from multiple settings to indicate the type of deal notifications they would like to receive. Users can then set text or push notification preferences for their deal alerts on a smartphone or even a “feature” phone.
As users interact with the app over time, the Roximity platform learns their interests and patterns and becomes more aware of the offers the user will find appealing. Users have the ability to limit the number of deals Roximity reports per day or week.
When connected through Sync AppLink, drivers can activate Roximity to verbally relay deals at their request while driving.
Sync AppLink integration enables drivers to use simple voice commands to access a list of deals nearby or in specific retail categories. The voice commands and features include:
* “Find nearby deals” commands the app to search for all deals, regardless of category, in a predefined search radius set within the app preferences
* “List deal categories” reminds you of all retail categories, including auto services, bars and clubs, breakfast, concerts, dinner, entertainment, food and grocery, health and fitness, home services, late night, lunch, men’s clothing, restaurants, spa and salon, sports events, treats and women’s clothing.
* “Call Retailer” directly dials the retailer, using hands-free Sync, allowing you to easily take advantage of the deal, such as ordering a pizza
With Roximity, users can find and redeem hundreds of thousands of offers nationwide from favorite places such as Banana Republic, Express, GameStop, Gap, H&M, PacSun, Pottery Barn, Qdoba, The Body Shop, Williams-Sonoma and more.
Roximity is now available for download in the App Store for iOS devices and users can register for the service here. A version for Android devices is in development.