contagt is a smart indoor guide. Instead of using printed maps and signs for orientation, contagt uses mobile devices, QR/NFC tags and beacons. With contagt, the owners or operators of buildings can make visitors, customers and employees feel “at home.” Johannes Britsch, CEO of Contagt, tells us how he came up with the idea for his solution and the many possibilities the technology offers.
Where did your idea for the company come from?
Johannes Britsch (Contagt): Do you know Dude, Where’s My Car? – the film with Ashton Kutcher? Our original idea basically addresses the same problem they have in the movie – finding cars again – especially in confusing locations like huge parking garages. We wanted to develop an app which could save your parking position indoors and then navigate you back to its position. While we were developing this, we received so many requests from different industries, all relating to an interest in our indoor navigation technology, that we realized that building a platform for indoor location and navigation would make a lot of sense.
For which kind of audience is your product or service intended and what problem is it solving?
Johannes Britsch (Contagt): We have a number of ongoing indoor navigation projects with operators of big buildings such as retailers, museums, congress centers, universities, parking garages – but our main focus is on office buildings and company sites. It’s interesting: Visitors are still welcomed to such locations the old-fashioned way. As a guest, you have to sign in and you are given a printed map for orientation. Our “Smart Indoorguide” solution is far better: When you get to the entrance, there’s a touchscreen terminal with an interactive map and directory. Staff can use the screen to show you the routes and visitors can easily search within the building. Visitors can then scan the QR code of their destination and our smartphone app guides them there directly.
Tell us a bit about the company’s founders like their professional or industry background and the origins of the founding idea.
Johannes Britsch (Contagt): Most of our team are “techies.” Stephan and Johannes worked for IBM; Niklas worked for NTT Data. My professional background is in the CRM industry (CAS software). We all got to know each other while doing our master and Ph.D. studies and started the project through an EXIST scholarship.
You say that your product doesn’t need GPS satellite reception and there’s no special effort installing devices for it to function. How exactly does it work?
Johannes Britsch (Contagt): Indoor navigation is extremely tricky, especially if you want to do it on normal smartphones. GPS is not available within buildings. So in order to achieve exact positioning, our technology combines different kinds of alternative data, like QR/NFC markers, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals, and the sensors in smartphones. Apart from that, you often don’t have any cell phone reception in buildings, so our solution also works completely offline. Building data can be downloaded beforehand and routing is performed directly on the device. Visit us at our booth and we will show you how it works!
See Contagt live on the CODE_n Stage on Monday, 16.03.2015.