The Spaceek app communicates with patented Bluetooth-enabled road reflectors to get you parked and on your way. The Spaceek app communicates with patented Bluetooth-enabled road reflectors to get you parked and on your way. The Spaceek app communicates with patented Bluetooth-enabled road reflectors to get you parked and on your way. (Photo: Alexey Boldin /Shutterstock)

Never search for a parking spot again

By some estimates, people can spend 106 days of their life looking for parking spots. Well, not anymore.

For those of us who live in big cities, where to park is the eternal problem. Parking expert and UCLA professor Donald Shoup found that in some cities, up to 75% of the traffic on downtown streets was due to people cruising for parking. But thanks to Spaceek, a startup company that launched recently in Israel, where to park may soon be a problem of the past.

Picture this: A Spaceek user arrives at a destination looking to find a parking spot. The driver opens the app, which connects by Bluetooth to the nearest sensor extracting all the relevant parking information about the location, including disabled or resident parking.

Of course the last thing we need is more drivers staring at their phones while behind the wheel. That’s why Spaceek’s guidance app uses hands-free navigation with voice instructions. The driver can see all of the available spaces and select the one they want. To avoid confusion with other drivers in the area, the app marks the spot as taken and directs the driver to that space using the shortest route. If the driver doesn’t use the space within a few minutes, the app will mark it as free again.

From The Grapevine spoke with Spaceek co-founder Itamar Meimon, an alumnus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “By using both historic information about occupancy as well as real-time information, Spaceek automates the navigation process and provides the shortest path to the cheapest, nearest and vacant parking,” he tells us.

Many existing apps use crowdsourcing, GPS signals or WiFi networks combined with smartphone apps that can show you where there might be a parking place. What makes Spaceek different is that it uses patented road reflectors enabled with Bluetooth, which can communicate with each other, and with the cloud when a user with a smartphone is nearby. For city planners, the sensors are as easy to install as standard road reflectors and are similar in price.

The road sensors transfer data to the servers without base stations or repeaters, and can accurately position the driver even in the absence of a GPS signal – for example, in an underground or closed parking garage. That way, Spaceek combines the best of crowdsourcing with accurate location-based information.

“Besides cost reduction, which is critical for widespread adoption of these kind of solutions, our innovative technology provides other advantages such as pinpointing the exact position of the driver in order to give them regulation information as well as a smart parking search engine based on real time data,” says Meimon.

Spaceek doesn’t currently integrate a parking payment scheme into its app, but Meimon says that down the road they plan to partner with local payment solutions.

The company has completed its pilot phase in Spaceek's hometown in central Israel. Meimon says they will continue to focus on expanding to other locations in Israel during the first half of 2016, and hope to expand soon to other countries in Europe and the United States.

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