With your iPhone and Meridian, getting lost in Powell’s Books may be a thing of the past

Ever gotten turned around in the mall? Maybe. Sort of lost in an airport? Okay. But getting all confused by the winding tunnels of Powell’s City of Books? Absolutely.

Well, now thanks to Meridian—a new iPhone app from Portland-based Spotlight Mobile—you can find your way around Powell’s like a pro.

Much in the same way Google Maps on mobile has helped folks find their way around town, Meridian promises to help folks find their way around the inside of large stores and buildings.

“Places want to offer their customers mobile apps that do more than provide info you can get from their website. They want to offer helpful tools that only location-aware technologies can deliver,” said Kiyo Kubo, Spotlight Mobile’s CEO. “Our Meridian platform is based on 10 years of experience Spotlight Mobile has gained developing apps for museums, parks and household brands.”

So how does it work?

Once downloaded, the Meridian mobile phone app notifies you of participating locations that offer helpful information and turn-by-turn directions within their facilities. Imagine walking into a bookstore wondering where to find a specific children’s book. Not only is there a long line for the info-desk, but you fear the employees might scoff you’re reading a kid’s book. So, you enter the book title into the Meridian-powered app on your mobile phone, which directs you to the book on its shelf. You then develop a thirst for a coffee, which Meridian helps you find too. Don’t worry: Meridian will point you to the bookstore’s restroom as well.

Too good to be true? Not really. I tested the app last night while I was at the Gary Vaynerchuk book talk and I have to say, it was pretty darned cool. Not only was I able to quickly lookup a book I was seeking, I was able to walk to it and pick it without bugging anyone at the info desk.

What’s more, using the iPhone gyroscope, the map shifts with you. Apart from just being fun, it makes sure you’re always sure you’re headed in the right direction.

But don’t just take my word for it. CrunchGear has some kind words about Meridian, as well.

The lazy part of me loves this concept. While I think grocery stores would resist playing ball with a service like this, I can’t tell you how happy it would make me if one day I could create a shopping list and have a map created to find each product. I imagine grocery stores would initially feel the same way about Meridian as TV ad agencies felt about DVRs, but really, they’ll have to get on board eventually because there are just too many advertising opportunities baked into the concept. There are just too many ways for businesses to capitalize on the prescience of in-store purchases. And that surely is part of Spotlight Mobile’s master strategy since Meridian keeps a history of the things you search for and all the maps you access. This kind of targeted information could be far more powerful for a store than merely keeping shoppers randomly in the location longer.

While Powell’s is the first live site, they’re adding others. And yes, they’re working on an Android version. You can sign up at the site to be notified when it’s done.

Download Meridian for the iPhone from the App Store. For more information, visit Meridian or you can follow @meridianapps on Twitter.

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  4. Isn’t getting lost the point of going to Powell’s in the first place?

  5. Thanks Amber! Very grateful to have your feedback on it.

  6. Aaron and I got the chance to test this app before it was released and we were extremely impressed! It’s incredible to watch what Spotlight Mobile is going!

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