On the lookout for his next startup idea and sitting impatiently in his car at a traffic light, Mark Pittman put two and two together — "there has got to be a better way to do this," he thought.
A graduate student studying business and law at the U, Pittman initially wanted to coordinate traffic lights and create a phone app so people could drive through without stopping. But the deeper he dug into the problem, the more his solution evolved.
"Initially we tried to sync all traffic lights, and we talked to traffic employees," Pittman said. "We learned it's not possible — not because of the lights, but because of the software. There's no software that gets data on the movement of people."
That realization laid the groundwork for his startup, Blyncsy, which has a first-generation beacon that records whenever a signal-emitting electronic-device passes. The beacons, called Blyncs, can be placed anywhere to monitor the movement of people — on sidewalks, streetlights or even ski lifts.
Since most people carry a connected device in their pocket, Blyncsy can monitor the movement of the majority of the population. The company tracks people using IP (Internet protocol) addresses, the unique number assigned to each device, performing a real-time traffic study every second of every day.
Blyncsy goes beyond collecting data, though. It makes it meaningful by applying algorithms to determine, for example, how many people are in a vehicle. And the company helps customers make sense of the data by providing heat maps and other visualizations. "We are a big-data company, not a traffic-sync company," Pittman said.
The company has already received about $10,000 in grants from the U's Entrepreneur Club and has started two pilot projects. One is working with the U to provide traffic data at the football stadium. Another is working with Snowbird Ski Resort to track skiers and the amount of time it takes to use ski lifts.
"We are building a multi-billion dollar company that we can take public in less than 10 years, if we don't get bought up first," Pittman said.
More at blyncsy.com.