Picture this: you’re on a cross-country trip from state to state in Malaysia, taking in the unique sights and especially food that our corner of the world can offer.
That all’s part of the adventure, but what may stand in between these are long stretches of road, from highways to dirt roads, which may not provide much sights. And for all you know, you might just be driving by what could have been a great chance to experience a one-of-a-kind stop on your trip while you’re bored on the road.
Whether your trips are long and windy, a trip back to your hometown or just a short jaunt to the neighbouring state and back for a delicious food-run, rivil is a new platform that aims to add more bang to the trip.
Recently out of Beta infancy, rivil’s mission statement is simple; it is a Malaysian road-trip planner that suggests exciting places along the way on any drive in Malaysia. How it does this is through mapping technology combining Foursquare and Waze, where it shows you all of the interesting stops you can take along the way.
So instead of only loading stops from point A to point B, rivil shows you all of the stops along the way that might pique your interest.
How It Works
Or you can bypass building a trip altogether, and just check out all of the stops available from your starting point to your destination, and just add them to your wishlist.
According to founder Faizal Akmal Abdul Rashid, their self-developed prototype can load the multiple locations a lot faster than others in the similar location-based service platforms.
“To load places along the way using this logic produces a fastest 20-second loading time to load around 600 places. With the same internet connection speed, we managed to cut the loading time to 3 second to load 1,000 places by creating our own data processing engine,” said Faizal.
While Faizal started out building the app alone, they have since grown to a seven-strong team, where Faizal provides the design of the app, and the rest of the programmers code it from prototype to a functional iOS app.
Faizal understands the importance of building a community surrounding an app like his, so they are working towards increasing traction in the market before they can explore solutions in a B2B market. According to Faizal, monetisation will come in as:
- Display advertising
- Location-based marketing
- Collaboration with corporates for marketing campaigns
- App-booking commissions
They’re Building Up The Locations
But as try-testers of the current app will note, while there are a number of locations keyed into rivil’s interface, they’re mostly centered around either Klang Valley, Penang, Malacca, and many of the already well-known areas with known stops.
While it currently won’t make for the most memorable of road-trips if you’re driving out of KL, the team does plan on expanding even further.
And in fact, the team is currently in the middle of a bid to gain investors so that they can expand the location plotting even more.
The engine used to run rivil (not to be confused with car engines) is the company’s own proprietary technology, which according to Faizal has given birth to “a new geospatial data processing solution that is able to provide solutions in geofencing, Geographical Information System (GIS) analytics, back-end logic for fleet management, and geospatial data visualisation”.
Basically, Faizal is stating that they can use the mapping tech behind rivil to produce more than just a road-trip app, and in fact try to improve mapping technology in many different industries and functions.
“Using our mapping technology, as of mid April 2017 we have tested it through 2 hackathons, each with different purpose based on our tech. We managed to move a Segway Loomo robot based on our mapping logic (MIT Hacking Medicine Robotics @ Singapore Feb 2017) and provides real-time traffic prediction, integrating our mapping technology with basic Machine Learning capability (GRAB MyTrafficHack @ KL April 2017).”
The Surprising Inspiration: Self-Driving Cars
It would come to no surprise that founder Faizal has always had an interest in the automotive industry, considering the app that he’s built. This passion led him to a Bachelor Degree in Race Car Engineering from Tokai University, Japan, a 3-month salesman position in Mercedes Benz Malaysia, and 2 and a half years employment as Business Development Executive in one of the biggest automotive companies in Malaysia, but he wanted more.
“With an honest intention to contribute my strengths and skills to improvise my beloved automotive industry, I’ve seen an obvious pattern and I came to a conclusion that automotive industry in Malaysia is lacking real technological innovation,” said Faizal, “and one of the main contributors is inefficiency in operations (slow and rigid) from internal bureaucratic nature of how decisions are being made in companies, and a company’s objective being more driven towards financial metrics versus pure human creativity of engineering innovation.”
And according to Faizal, rivil is just the first-step in their utilisation of the mapping technology that they’ve developed. Faizal has always had an interest in self-driving cars, which according to him, should be like a “living room that moves”. And to him, that setup should also allow the cars to plot multiple stops, à la rivil’s modus operandi.
In the future, the team is pushing their mapping technology into automatic robot navigation, starting with drones. “In other words, we are able to provide guidance for drones to move autonomously by creating a virtual highway for multiple drones to move in formation,” said Faizal.
“We are also in the midst of testing our mapping technology on Malaysia’s first self-driving car developed by a truly innovative Malaysian startup called REKA, where we will provide a ‘virtual lane’ to support the image recognition processing for the self-driving car to drive itself.”
The rivil app is currently only available in the Apple App store.