Archive for the ‘GPS’ Category

Joan Verdon Of The Bergen Record Writes About FastMall for iPhone, CEO Sam Feuer

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Sam Feuer and his wife were at Menlo Park Mall about a year ago when his wife — 6 1/2 months pregnant at the time — needed to use the bathroom. “And no one could tell us where the nearest bathroom was,” he said. “It literally took us almost 25 minutes to find a bathroom.”
Necessity was the mother of invention: Sam Feuer of Web developer MindSmack says his pregnant wife urged him to develop an application to help people find the nearest restrooms in the mall. FastMall is the result.

Necessity was the mother of invention: Sam Feuer of Web developer MindSmack says his pregnant wife urged him to develop an application to help people find the nearest restrooms in the mall. FastMall is the result.

Feuer (pronounced FOY-er) heads a North Brunswick-based Web development company called MindSmack that specializes in using technology to get results. So his wife said, “You own MindSmack — you should do something to help people find bathrooms at malls.” And he did. MindSmack in December launched FastMall, a free iPhone application that guides shoppers through malls, provides information about store deals, and shows the locations of all the bathrooms on a FastMall map when you shake the phone.

FastMall also shows shoppers with strollers or in wheelchairs how to find elevators, and lets mall visitors announce via Facebook or Twitter that they’ve arrived at a certain store. Feuer, 33, sees the potential to build FastMall into the “Google of malls,” along with numerous opportunities for revenue-producing advertising and marketing deals. He spoke with The Record while demonstrating the FastMall app at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus.

Q. So your wife needing to go to the bathroom inspired FastMall?

Right. The goal was to find her a bathroom in a store or the mall as quick as possible. Then it evolved into something where you can actually get turn-by-turn directions inside of a structure without using GPS. We built it initially with GPS because we thought that would make the most sense. But GPS failed inside of most internal structures over time. So we went back to the drawing board as far as the mapping technology goes and built it without GPS.

Q. How does it work?

It’s kind of like Coke — I don’t want to give you the whole secret. There’s an algorithm involved. It’s called Dijkstra’s algorithm [a formula for finding the shortest route]. Google Map has three choices for routes: walking, biking or bus. So I said let’s give people a choice of fastest, escalator and elevator. This works exactly like Google Map, but for indoors. We can work with any brand or any mall company, like Westfield for example. We can put Westfield’s logo on the map of the mall, to brand it. That’s how you monetize the application.

Q. How many people have downloaded the app?

We’re at over 50,000 now. We’re exploding. It’s really from word of mouth. Your article alone will probably bring 15,000-20,000 new users because New Jersey’s the mall capital of the world.

Q. Malls like to control their information. What kind of reaction are you getting from the malls?

So far, every reaction we’ve gotten has been “We want to work with you,” or “How did you do this without us helping you?” There are so many other mall apps out there that are just a waste of everyone’s time. We begin where every other mall app ends.

Q. FastMall shows you restrooms inside stores. How did you get that information without someone scouting out each store?

We can get the locations of the mall bathrooms, but the locations inside places like Penney’s, that’s impossible to get. That’s where we’re relying on the community. If you click that button you can add a location of a bathroom. As we get 100,000 to a million users, which is coming, we’re going to get all that feedback.

Read the rest of the article on NorthJersey.com – http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/89860217_Helping_shoppers_to_navigate_the_mall.html