4 startups that are disrupting the time suck that is commuting
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Photo Credit: Urban Engines

Studies show people hate commuting more than housework. Here are 4 startups that are trying to help

In studies of happiness and well-being, commuting to and from work ranks among the least favorite activities. Whether you’re standing in an overcrowded bus or circling your office building for parking, commuting can be frustrating and stressful. In honor of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which took place on April 28, Geektime has chosen four startups that feel commuters’ pain.

Getting there

Urban Engines is a Waze for public transportation. If you’ve tried getting around using the public transportation option on Google Maps or even Moovit, you’ll notice there are a lot of information gaps. Urban Engines lets you navigate a city by just looking into your phone, and you’ll see the scene in front of you with a map overlay and public transportation options. The app will also tell you the best route to take based on traffic conditions. It even works when you are offline.

Parking

If Urban Engines is the Waze for public transport, then ParkLife, an Israeli startup in beta, seeks to be the Waze for parking. You tell the app where your destination is, and the app tells you, in real-time, your likelihood of finding parking on each street in the vicinity, based on historical data crowdsourced from all users.

If you are tired or just give up finding an on-street parking spot, ParkLife will let you comparison shop the nearest paid parking lots.

Hi-Park is another Israeli parking app that has patented a computer vision algorithm that recognizes parking spots. As you drive around, the Hi-Park app (which will soon become available on iOS and Android) runs in the background, capturing video from the rear camera of your smartphone. The algorithm then collects information about free parking spots as you travel along your route. The vacant parking GPS data is sent to a central server, where it is then distributed to all other Hi-Park users to enable them to find vacant parking spaces based on their need, their distance from the parking areas and historical occupancy data. The app can also let you find the lowest priced gas station or hazards on the road.

hipark

Photo Credit: Hi-Park

 

When something goes wrong

Engie is an Android app (currently in Hebrew) that helps a driver understand what’s going on in their car. In case of malfunction, the app offers information as to what went wrong as well as real-time bids from mechanics nearby.

“I had an old car,” Gal Aharon, Co-founder and VP of Marketing told Geektime. “It gave me tons of trouble. I would go to the mechanic, and he’d just say you need to pay this and this, and I was so desperate I would say, just make it work and I’ll pay whatever you want.”

At the time, Aharon was enrolled in the Zell Entrepreneurship program at IDC-Herzliya.

“It wasn’t just my problem,” she told Geektime. “More than two-thirds of driver don’t know what’s going on in their car — more people prefer to go to a dentist than a car mechanic.”

Engie consists of a smartphone app and a small device that connects to your car’s computer. The device transmits information to the app, which  can tell you what the malfunction is in 60-80 percent of cases, says Aharon, whether it’s your fuel consumption or that you need a new battery. Then you can receive bids from local mechanics who want to fix the problem.

“There’s no hustle or bad vibes. All the information is on the table.”

So far, Engie has about 30,000 users  all over Israel and about 30 car mechanics in  Tel Aviv and Rishon Letzion. It is not charging money until its user base grows but the business model will be to take a percentage from the mechanics’ fee. One of the app’s seed investors is Uri Levine, a co-founder of Waze and Aharon’s mentor in the Zell program. He is also a partner in the startup.

“We will have an English-language version soon,” explains Aharon, and then the app will launch in other countries. Shady car mechanics of the world, you’ve been warned!

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Simona Weinglass

About Simona Weinglass


I’m an old-school journalist who recently decided to pivot into high-tech. I work in high-tech marketing as well as print and broadcast media covering politics, business culture and everything in between.

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  • Aaron

    Urban Engines looks great but is region locked on Google Play Store in Israel.