Regina man's 'lightbulb moment' connects drivers through licence plates

A Regina man has come up with a way for people to communicate to drivers using their vehicle licence plates. Saul Segall calls the app Chimo.

Have a message for a driver or car owner? Chimo can get it to them

A new app, called Chimo, lets users communicate using a licence plate number. (CBC)

A Regina man has come up with a social media app that people can use to get messages to car owners.

Saul Segall calls it Chimo.

"Chimo is basically a simple app that allows people to communicate with one other Chimo users simply by texting each other's licence plate," Segall said.

Segall calls himself an ideas person who frequently tries to devise solutions to problems. Chimo, he said, was percolating in his head for some time.

He said he would encounter different situations or read about problems on the road, and wanted to find an answer.

Searching for a solution

Children or pets left in a parked car, especially in the summer heat, was something he wanted to address.

"[It's] a simple form of communication or a simple way that people could contact the pet owner or the parent," he said.

It popped into my head and I thought, I'm going to run with this.- Saul Segall, Chimo

Another source of inspiration, he said, was to address things like telling someone when they've left their car lights on.

As he pondered such scenarios, he said, he came up with a text system using licence plates.

"I had that light bulb moment," he said. "It popped into my head and I thought, I'm going to run with this."

Segall said once he decided to pursue the idea with gusto, it took about three months to start the company and have the app professionally built.

After the app is installed, users register how they want to be be contacted and their licence plate number.

He said the app will work with licence plates around the world.

Users can also customize their profile and use different plates depending on which vehicle they're using.

"Enter your car, or your motorcycle plate or your camper plate or whatever," he said.

User reliance

The application relies on other people being registered with Chimo, so only registered Chimo users can send and receive messages or alerts.

Segall also spoke about how the app might be used to comment on a driver.

"If people are sending you messages that are unwanted, or that you might find offensive, you simply block them," he said. "I think that with any sort of social networking you're going to find people that are either going to abuse it or use it for their own good or bad [intentions]."

He said one market that he is hoping to exploit concerns parking at apartment or condominium buildings, especially enforcement of parking rules and advising errant parkers to move a vehicle.

"I just thought, there's got to be an easy way for these property management companies to contact tenants," he said.

There are also plans to provide window decals so that registered Chimo users can signal they are using the app.

The name Chimo is based on his pet dog. He said the dog was named after a favourite childhood park in Vancouver.

With files from CBC Radio's The Afternoon Edition

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