ARTS AND CULTURE
Got Time to Kill? Open a Wyndow, Find Something to Do
App serves up a list of cultural events going on near you – ones that fit into the window of time you have available
Have you ever found yourself with a chunk of free time while travelling, but struggled to figure out what you could do that would safely be finished by the time you needed to be at the airport?
Sometimes, even with the help of Google, Yelp and (ahem) Billy, it can seem like a lot of work just to figure out how to have fun. Oleg Kaganovich feels your pain. That’s why he invented Wyndow, a free app for the iPhone and Android, that can tell you exactly which activities you can enjoy if you tell it where you are and how much free time you have.
Years ago, Kaganovich was on trip to New York when one of his back-to-back meetings was cancelled without warning. “It meant that I had a three-hour window of time, in the middle of the day,” he recalls. Kaganovich asked his boutique hotel concierge for suggestions for what he could do locally, within that window. “They struggled,” he recalls, “and ended up sending me to Google, which gave me 2.58 billion results.”
Being an incurable entrepreneur and sensing that his frustration was likely shared by others, Kaganovich decided to fill that gap himself, and Wyndow was born.
"It’s like a distraction-free list of distractions."
What makes Wyndow different from the many “event discovery” apps that already exist? It lets users dial in a specific time frame, on a specific date, and set a specific radius of distance from their current location. You can choose which of the 16 categories interest you, including food/wine, music, movies, theatre, sports, and more – there’s even a “free” category if budget is an issue. Wyndow then scours the relevant data from a variety of sources; the resulting list of events is guaranteed to show you only what you can experience with the time you have – no more, no less. It’s like a distraction-free list of distractions.
Wyndow curates its data from publicly available sources, and this leads to more robust results in larger cities: If you're looking for something to do in New York, there's plenty. The results are less thorough for, say, Toronto or Boston. And for smaller cities like North Bay or Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, a local newspaper is still probably the better bet, as Wyndow seems limited to movie listings so far.
Computer users can also avail themselves of the Wyndow experience online though the companion website. This interface is actually Kaganovich’s secret revenue weapon – instead of relying on monetization of the mobile app, he’s licensing the Wyndow engine to hotels and other hospitality and travel players so they can integrate it into their own sites, and thus offer their clients a better experience than the one Kaganovich had in New York. Here’s an example of this integration at a San Francisco-based hotel.
Wyndow is still in its early days and the experience isn’t as a polished as it could be. There are no ratings visible yet – which can make it harder to a pick a movie or show – though Kaganovich assures us it’s coming soon. Buying tickets directly within the app is hit and miss: Not all locations have ticketing agreements with the services that Wyndow uses, like Fandango, though this is mostly only an issue in Canada. Wyndow can’t yet address the question of travel time, so if your window starts at 6 p.m., you’ll still see movies that start at 6.p.m. even if there’s no way you could get to that theatre from your location.
Yet for all that it’s a useful tool for travellers – and for when you’re at home. Unless you’re a compulsive planner, spare time has a funny way of just appearing as you suddenly find yourself between activities (something parents experience all the time). Wyndow is great for that too, Kaganovich says, noting that the app has led to more dates for him and his wife – despite having young children.