An app that allows you to search for location specific information by the time it takes to get there has won a competition.
iGeolise turns conventional distance-based web searching into ‘journey time searches’ and promises to double the number of relevant results you get when searching for location specific information from restaurant guides, property websites or online job listings for example.
Using satellite derived maps overlaid with public transport data, road travel time information and average walking speeds, it can rank and sort several thousand points by travel time virtually instantly.
It means rather than searching for jobs within a mile of your house you could now, for example, search for those that are within a 45 minute drive or public transport commute at 07:45 on a weekday morning.
“When we ask how far away something is we are generally not interested in answers in miles or metres," said Charlie Davies, co-founder, Product & Technology director at iGeolise.
"What we want is something in hours and minutes and specific to the modes of transport available to us, but until now, this hasn’t been an option on websites or apps.
"Microsoft has said around half of all searches fail to return the result sought.
“Although results might be close distance-wise, they are actually a real pain to get to.
"The same searches are also missing out on a similar number of additional results which might be further away but the available transport infrastructure makes them very accessible.”
The UK Satellite Navigation Competition (UKSnC) is part of a global competition aimed at stimulating new innovations in satellite navigation for use in technologies like smartphone apps and location-based services.
The competition is organised by the University of Nottingham’s GNSS Research and Applications Centre of Excellence (GRACE), themselves experts in satellite navigation and the panel of judges included sponsors such as the UK Space Agency, the Technology Strategy Board, the International Space Innovation Centre, EADS Astrium, Logica and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council.
Over 400 business ideas from around the world were put before judging panels in each country as part of this year’s competition, of which 77 were from the UK, the highest number for any territory.
As UK champions, iGeolise were automatically put forward as the UK representatives in the global competition where they finished a close third, only one point behind the two winners who tied for first place.
iGeolise was founded by young entrepreneur, Charlie Davies, 25, who had the original idea, and his business partner and co-founder Peter Lilley.
Today the technology provides time based searches across the UK, New York and San Francisco.
It has also been trialled in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Russia, India & China, though, as it is able to take any map as its base data source, it could be used virtually anywhere across the globe.
“Just to have a panel of the calibre of the UK Space Agency, the Technology Strategy Board, Logica, Astrium and the International Space Innovation Centre say they believe in your idea is a massive endorsement and will certainly open doors for us going forward," said Peter Lilley, co-founder and CEO at iGeolise.
"It shows us and our potential customers that we have built something that really is useful.
"These are seriously smart people who know how to turn ideas into successful businesses so we can’t wait to learn as much as we can from them, and make best use of the prizes we have won.”
As well as embedding the technology in a website search facility, the platform can also be used for one-off location-based projects.
iGeolise has carried out a project for TalkTalk who wanted to find the best place to relocate 1000 staff whilst minimising the impact on their journey times.
The Guardian Media Group has also used it to identify convenient locations for regional events that were easily accessible for their subscribers.
By Christmas, iGeolise will be able to calculate the estimated costs and carbon footprint of each journey, a key aspect for fleet management, the relocation of offices or car-pooling initiatives.
Charlie and Peter will also add real time public transport data to increase the accuracy of results for apps or websites whose users are likely to act immediately on the information they receive, such as restaurant guides.
As the new UK champions, iGeolise will receive £5,000 in cash and the same amount again in business support including office space, patent advice, and introductions to industry partners and funding opportunities.
“It’s great to see a young entrepreneur like Charlie come forward with a brilliant new technology and a solid business plan, developed with Peter, that could see it really take off," said Prof Terry Moore Director of GRACE at The University of Nottingham.
"There is a lot of potential up there in the our satellite infrastructure and with the UK competition receiving the most entries of any in the world this could be a major area of growth for the UK economy going forward.”
Tim Just, head of Space at the Technology Strategy Board, said: “Location based services underpin a huge range of industrial applications, and satellite time signals are used in everything from electricity distribution to stock market transactions.
"But in world of consumer technologies we have only just scratched the surface of it in terms of how this data can transform our lives.
"Like all great ideas, the principle behind iGeolise is simple but the potential is massive.
"We’ll soon wonder why journey-time based searches were not freely available before.
"This is an indication of how young and fertile this area is and how much space there is for new ideas.”