Making the connection Apps turn to integration

Andrew Sheldon//July 21, 2014//

Making the connection Apps turn to integration

Andrew Sheldon//July 21, 2014//

Listen to this article

If you ask tech experts, simple smartphone apps are old news.

That’s why Retail Shopping Systems created a new touch-screen tablet that mounts to the handle of a shopping cart and connects with the company’s mobile app, List Magic, allowing shoppers to upload their lists to the tablet display.

“It’s a completely customizable shopping experience,” said Ed Heflin, co-founder, chief technology officer and chief financial officer of the Clifton-based startup. “It’s almost like having a personalized shopping assistant with them.”

Retail Shopping Systems, whose product is now in five North Jersey supermarkets, is not alone in its approach. Experts say more tech companies are developing software that integrates smartphones with multiple platforms — rather than simple apps that are limited to one device — allowing them to enhance the program’s functionality for the user.

And several New Jersey tech firms are following that path.

“More and more devices are being built to support connectivity,” Ryan Shearman, whose New Jersey-based company Fusar has linked smartphones to a “smart helmet” for motorcycle riders. “With access to the Internet via your data plan, you can connect to almost anything today.”

Retail Shopping Systems and Fusar were among the seven companies at this year’s LaunchPad, a pitch session hosted by the technology accelerator TechLaunch. As part of being selected for the event, each company has been selected to get up to $25,000 in seed capital and training from the organization.

Four of those startups have been developing integrated technology.

Mario Casabona, founder and CEO of TechLaunch, first noticed the trend when putting together last year’s event. It seemed more developers were submitting applications for this type of technology, he said, while investors seemed willing to consider the ideas.

“It happened organically, but at the same time we’re finding, even from last year, that some of the investors have more of an interest,” Casabona said.

Such products are gaining traction in consumer markets. This summer, GE began to offer a Wi-Fi-enabled air conditioning unit that can be controlled by a smartphone. And carmakers are increasingly focused on ways to integrate the vehicles with the devices used by their drivers.