t’s difficult to know which way to go if you don’t know where you are starting from. That’s the reason directional signage started. What had begun as simple inuksuk and directional arrows has now developed into an industry that helps people find their way around offices, shopping malls, universities, hospitals and many other sites using Interactive Touch Screen Technology. Although the Digital Way Finding industry is not yet 15 years old and many companies have tried to develop a true coast to coast operation to service national and local clients alike one company stands out in both its history and its development of technology. YouRhere Inc was founded in Alberta in 2004 by former Microsoft employee Wojtek Kowalczewski. During the past decade the company has grown to become a national industry leader with offices in major cities across Canada. The company is a true end-to-end vertical systems integrator providing design, fabrication, installation, and after-sales support to its customers. It boasts and impressive list of clients which include virtually all the major real estate owners and managers across Canada. One of the ways youRhere has come to better understand its customers’ needs is through various industry associations, most notably BOMA, including Edmonton. “Our membership in BOMA has helped us immensely, both in interacting socially with our current and future customers, but also through its educational initiatives on such topics as sustainability and accessibility, which has given us the insights to further develop our software,” says Mr. Kowalczewski. For example, youRhere directories are capable of receiving information from building management systems and presenting that information in an attractive format to allow the building to communicate with its tenants and visitors alike on such topics as building sustainability initiatives.
1 June 2015 | BOMA Edmonton Newsletter | www.bomaedmonton.org
Given that fundamentally youRhere is in the business of deploying and supporting information technology, it’s not surprising to learn that that technology has evolved significantly over the past decade. What started as simple directo-
ries, has evolved to information boards showing sustainability, and is now a two way communication between visitors and property management. youRhere was one of the first adopters of large screen formats, with current installations demanding 75” screens with multi touch capabilities, mobile applications, NFC communications, iBeacons, and more. Large custom fabricated kiosks compliment the fine finishes expected in most venues. The second aspect of this development lies in the company’s proprietary software that its programmers use to power the touchscreen application which can be customized in both look and content to each installation. While such basic search capabilities as 3D mapping with “footprints” to make way finding easier have become standard, the company continues to develop new applications, features and enhancements to its offering. For example, one of the company’s most recent shopping mall installations provides live feeds to the local transit authority, so that busy shoppers can learn that “the Number 52 Bus to downtown will be at the South mall entrance in eight minutes” relieving them of the need to wait and wonder when the next bus would be coming. Another of the applications the company developed was to comply with new legislation enacted in several provinces mandating that buildings be made accessible to individuals of all abilities. To do so, youRhere’s directories offer an on-screen button providing visitors in wheelchairs the ability to lower the interface menu and direct visitors to paths avoiding escalators. Operating the largest national interactive company out of Alberta was not without challenges, but it did give youRhere access to great manufacturing facilities and a highly skilled work force. It’s interesting to note that currently Western Canada continues to lead in the adoption rates of interactive directories. In the end, this bet paid off for