Less bang for more buck: app rewards users for lack of phone use

New iPhone app Pocket Points allows students to earn redeemable points by not using their cellphone. Online Photo.

New iPhone app Pocket Points allows students to earn redeemable points by not using their cellphone. Online Photo.

The Pocket Points app is making its way across Oklahoma college campuses, including Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma University and eventually Oklahoma State University, according to KFOR. Engineers at Oklahoma Christian University are looking into developing something similar.

This application, Pocket Points, is a location-based app that rewards students for not using their cell phone.

The app works by opening the application and then locking the phone and the more time you leave it locked the more ‘points’ you get. These points may be redeemed at shops, restaurants and stores surrounding the specific campus participating in using app program.

Oklahoma Christian Entrepreneur in Residence Russell McGuire said this app has many capabilities, but could also be improved.

“Pocket Points, similar to our Ethos app, gives students points based on their location,” McGuire said. “Pocket Points has a really interesting business model which is different from the Ethos app and also another app called Altimeter. But the Pocket Points ideal could be implemented into the Altimeter software.”

McGuire said the Altimeter app could improve some weaknesses he noticed in the pocket points app.

“Pocket Points has to convince students to download the app while nearly 90 percent of students at Altimeter-using schools already have the app,” McGuire said. “Also, Altimeter uses location services to recognize specific buildings, rooms and events that are happening. As well as locations, Altimeter downloads university systems to recognize specific class times and locations. Therefore, students would only get points if they were actually in class or chapel.”

Former Oklahoma Christian student and current Altimeter employee Austin McRay said pocket points is to the liking of a lot of students.

“A big part of the Pocket Points business plan is partnering with local businesses to offer discounts as rewards for these students that build up a certain amount of points,” McRay said. “This is a big reason why they have grown so quickly. Students love free and discounted stuff. Similarly, the Altimeter app can be used in the same way.”

McRay said it would not be hard to bring the the Pocket Points app to the Oklahoma Christian campus.

“Schools can already use Altimeter to give away rewards for being in the right place at the correct time,” McRay said. “I don’t think it would be that hard to build in an additional functionality to where once the student checks in and puts their phone in their pocket, it begins to accumulate points.”

McRay said the Altimeter app has some differences that might be more productive than pocket points.

“As Russ [McGuire] said, a big differentiator between our app and others is that we can pinpoint specific locations such as buildings, rooms and other events happening on campus,” McRay said. “That way students are only rewarding for using this app during class, chapel or another school event.”

Oklahoma Christian freshman Austin McCain said there would be some positives and negatives in having this app on campus.

“I think it could be very beneficial for students here on campus,” McCain said. “I would certainly download it to receive the rewards as well as give me an excuse to stay off my phone.”

However, McCain said students taking advantage of the program could be a large issue.

“I personally believe students may try and manipulate the usage of this app and try and find a way to cheat around it,” McCain said. “It would not be hard to use a previously used phone or iPod and download the app and load up on points. This would be a stretch for students but nonetheless I feel it would be of way more positive use than negative.”

Pocket Points is available on the iTunes app store, however, it only works for participating college campuses.

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