Pongr’s Zach Cox talks about mobile tech & expanding Iowa team

Across the globe, startups are utilizing mobile technology to create innovative and disruptive product offerings. Locally, we’re seeing the mobile tech community continue to expand, as well. One of those recent additions is a company called Pongr. The startup still maintains a Boston address, but co-founder and native Iowan, Zach Cox, has plans…

Across the globe, startups are utilizing mobile technology to create innovative and disruptive product offerings. Locally, we’re seeing the mobile tech community continue to expand, as well. One of those recent additions is a company called Pongr. The startup still maintains a Boston address, but co-founder and native Iowan, Zach Cox, has plans for future technical hires in the area.

Pongr offers a mobile image search “computer vision” technology. According to Zach, Pongr’s technology recognizes images in pictures from mobile phones by comparing the captured information against an index of images.

QR code technology, the ability to transmit information based on an image of a black-and-white square, has been around for several years and has shown up everywhere from magazine ads to billboards (below, photo by alex_lee2001 via Flickr) to the name badges at this year’s South by Southwest conference, but it has yet to gain popular use in the U.S. Zach says Pongr’s technology transcends QR codes and eliminates many of the drawbacks associated with it.

“With our system we’re actually associating information with the image itself, so with the full page Gucci ad there is no need for a special code to slap on. The creative people in the ad industry don’t like QR codes because it messes with the nice artwork in the ad. We offer a nice alternative.”

Zach’s team, which includes co-founders Jamie Thompson and Neal Checka in Boston, has found several uses for the technology since they launched in early 2008.

First, they offered a mobile price checking service where users could seek out the store with the least expensive price by taking a picture of a product. Today, they’ve moved into mobile marketing campaigns and have worked with magazines such as W to make “static print media interactive.”

“You could take a picture of any ad in the magazine, send it to Pongr and you would get entered in the W thousand dollar shopping spree and get back some relevant information about the product in the ad – coupons, incentives, locations to buy, links to their mobile web pages, videos, forms to sign up the for newsletter – anything that the brand of the agency wants to do to make the ad more interactive.”

Future applications of Pongr’s technology will include billboards, movie posters, and TV commercials.

Here’s a short overview video of Pongr from pongr.com:

Though he’s only been in Des Moines a few weeks, Zach is excited by the startup community that he’s discovered here. “I’m surprised by the energy around startups here, you don’t normally think of the Midwest or Des Moines as being a tech hub, or startup place … but everybody has been great.”

This is a welcome sign as he looks to build the development and operations side of the business locally. “All of our infrastructure, our web apps, the things that receive and send emails and text messages – that’s the side of things we’re looking to hire for in Des Moines,” Zach said.

 

 

Try out Pongr’s mobile image search technology for yourself. Using a mobile device, take a photo of the Silicon Prairie News logo on the left and send it to ads@pongr.com.

 

 

 

 

In the video below, Zach talks more about Pongr’s technology, future plans for the company, and his thoughts on the Des Moines startup community.