OmniProx pushes for maximum impact in the sizzling digital content space - Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

OmniProx pushes for maximum impact in the sizzling digital content space

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 is identified when a mobile has been initialized to respond to a given location. "We're the only system that's 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."

OmniProx was founded by three partners in addition to DiGioia: Robert Petrilli 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 through kiosk systems when mobile media apps began taking off.

Unlike other digital media 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. The data may include: general information, reward incentives or secure coupons with barcodes, to name a few. No more cutting out paper coupons, says DiGioia, simply flash your text to the business. 

The concept also puts decisions in the hands of businesses, adds DiGioia. A "smart sensor" will 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 in August.

"Imagine what we can do with Kennywood and the Pittsbugh Zoo," he muses, "or Disney World!"

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