Since long ago, checking-in is no longer just something you do when you get to a hotel or an airport. In social networking, announcing your presence at events has become a popular pastime. All sorts of services, like Foursquare, Facebook and GoWalla, let you check-in and check out who else is around.
But checking-in can be a hassle. There’s lots of typing and clicking to do, especially if you check-in on more than one service. That’s why a team of Israeli entrepreneurs developed Picalogo, a check-in app that will save you that precious time.
Instead of making you type or touch your smartphone screen to check in, Picalogo lets you check in using your smartphone’s camera. Just take a picture of the closest logo, and the app automatically figures out where you are and registers you on the major check-in apps.
“In the normal check-in process, you are usually presented with a list of venues in your area to choose from. But the list is actually a big hassle,” says Picalogo CEO Eli Swed. “Finding the business takes 10 times more than checking-in. The app doesn’t know where you really are, and scrolling through long lists could be very annoying.”
All the check-in apps use GPS to build that list. But GPS doesn’t work well in many indoor venues, like malls and conference centers. Picalogo uses GPS, too. But because there is usually only one Starbucks or Gap in the mall you’re checking in from, or only one Marriott or Radisson in your area, the app only needs an approximation of where you are. Once you upload the logo of the venue, Picalogo’s servers can figure out in seconds exactly where you are – with no extra work on your part.
Swed explains that Logos are distinct and easy to access. “You find them on walls, napkins, signs – and they’re everywhere.” The company has a large and expanding logo database, and each time a new one comes in Picalogo updates the database with locations and users.
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Beside their ubiquity, logos have an advantage that Picalogo sees as a fantastic business opportunity. If a user checks in at a store in the mall, for example, he’s able to download coupons and other offers directly to his cellphone.
“Right now, checking in is seen as something for ‘geeks’ at computer conferences,” says Swed. “If you’re not into social networking, you won’t bother with an app like Foursquare. But with Picalogo’s coupon program, suddenly everyone in the mall has a reason to check in. And the fact that the check-in is done just by taking a photo means that even the least geeky user – like my 70-year-old grandmother who goes shopping in the supermarket – will be able to use it and save money.”
The coupon program is key to Picalogo’s business plan. “We are already taking part in coupon affiliate programs, sharing the location-based coupon revenues. We believe that it’s better for us to be there than to sell the app for a dollar or two,” says Swed.
Picalogo was released in October and according to the company already has hundreds of thousands of users. “The app is free and will always remain free,” ensures Swed.
The privately funded company is headquartered in Tel Aviv.