New High Point Market app promises ease of navigation, exhibitor search

Includes indoor ‘blue dot’ mapping feature

Larry Thomas — Home Accents Today, February 12, 2016

HIGH POINT — A mobile phone app that will allow High Point Market attendees to better navigate the event’s complex network of showroom buildings is set to launch in early April.

The new app will include an indoor “blue dot” mapping feature that can give users precise door-to-door directions between two locations in the same building — even specifying which hallways, elevators or escalators to use.

“Our primary goal is for the user to make more efficient use of his or her time at market,” Neil Marritt, an executive with the consulting firm Emisare, said last week during a presentation to the High Point Market Authority board of directors. “It should allow more people to be able to visit more showrooms.”

Marritt told board members the Market Authority’s own surveys have shown buyers are often confused by the vast number of showrooms, as well as the difficulty of locating specific showrooms within the market’s larger showroom buildings. The custom-built app should address those concerns, not only by giving directions, but by helping buyers decide which showrooms to visit.

“It has a very robust exhibitor search function that allows the user to search for showrooms based on style, category or price point,” Marritt said. “That allows users to concentrate on products that specifically interest them.”

Based on the user’s search parameters, it will also make recommendations for other showrooms that might be of interest.

The app, which will be available for free download around April 1, is compatible with the iPhone and iPad, and will work even if the user isn’t connected to the Internet, he explained.

But Marritt said the most exciting feature — and also the most difficult to develop — is the so-called vertical mapping capability that will give the user directions, for example, between two locations within the multi-story, multi-wing International Home Furnishings Center.

Once inside the IHFC, the user’s location will be detected by one of more than 900 beacons that have been installed inside the complex. The user can then find a company’s showroom on the app and get specific directions from that location.

Marritt said the indoor mapping feature will only work inside the IHFC during the April market, but he hopes to bring other market buildings online before the October show.

The app’s outdoor mapping feature will work throughout the downtown showroom district and will direct the user to the appropriate building entrance if the desired showroom is not inside the IHFC, he said.

Market Authority President Tom Conley said building owners are paying to purchase and install beacons in their facilities, but all other costs are being borne by the Market Authority, which already has spent more than $200,000 on development of the app.

“It has presented some real challenges … but we are very excited about it,” Conley told board members, noting that development work began last September.

Marritt said a “help desk” to answer questions about the new app will be established at the transportation terminal in front of the IHFC’s Commerce Street entrance.