Oberwil, 28.10.2020

Two Oberwilers want to make driving into an experience with their app

Matthias Stadler and Rony Speck have developed their own app, Spiri. This reveals unknown facts during car journeys.

"Look, the tower over there is interesting" or "What kind of specialities are there": that's how it often sounds in many car journeys. You have time to look out the window and let your thoughts wander. What kind of stories do you think are hidden behind a place, an object or a region? Spiri - a travel app - can provide answers. It was and will be developed by the two men from Zug: Rony Speck (40) and Matthias Stadler (36). The app is intended to inform travellers, especially motorists, about the surroundings and thereby make the route into a destination. "Stories convey values, describe the homeland and provide insight into local culture and regional life. They combine tradition with the present and the past with the future," explains Matthias Stadler.

The inspiration can be easily recognised: Spiri comes from Spyri. And author Johanna Spyri wrote "Heidi" and thus shaped the image of Switzerland. "It combines local culture with the best entertainment, just like Spiri," he adds.

The basic app was for a master's thesis
The Oberwiler is responsible for the name, and is also the man behind the idea. The app is based on the master's thesis that Stadler completed at the University of Technology in Rapperswil. "We developed our own idea as a team," he explains, adding: "The work was successful, and I thought it was a pity that all the material should simply be lost afterwards." The idea was there, the basis had been laid. And, as a trained graphic designer, the 36-year-old has given the app the appealing look. But what next?

By chance, he met the computer scientist Rony Speck at this stage. The 40-year-old also grew up in Oberwil, and the two knew each other from sight, but no closer. That quickly changed. Rony Speck says: "I’d been toying with the idea of self-employment for a long time and had also gained experience in a start-up."

The two are now focused full-time on the app. Earning money with the app is not yet the primary motive, and they are both are very enthusiastic and motivated. "We gain an incredible amount of experience, which we can take with us for later," explains the computer scientist. "It's a good investment," says his business partner. But they don't want to look too far into the future. The mountain of work and investment is too high. "We mustn’t get bogged down and must tackle any issues one by one," says Matthias Stadler.

Photo 1: Matthias Stadler (left) and Rony Speck stand where the old sawmill in Oberwil once was – one of the places that becomes a topic on Spiri.
Photo 2: The home page of the Spiri app
Photo 3: The old sawmill in Oberwil: One of the stories you learn on the track.

But there is a vision, of course: "Spiri is not tied to any particular path, and links together individual stories to form a network. This supports the philosophy of travelling wherever you feel like. The app allows you to spontaneous turn to the right or the left, and to make intuitive discoveries." For the time being, only routes in Switzerland will be covered. But the two are thinking big, and thereby also beyond the national border. But, as we said above, step by step. The next main goal is to expand the collection of stories. "Spiri thrives on the stories," says Stadler.

The free prototype is ready for use
A free prototype version for the route between Zug and Lugano is already active. "The route is steeped in history and connects different cultures," the two developers explain. Spiri tells 21 stories. The topics include the Toblerone houses in Oberwil, the Föhn wind in the Urner Reuss Valley or the transport of cows through the Gotthard Tunnel. Spiri can be downloaded and operated in parallel with other apps, such as Spotify. The location detection selects the most local stories, so if you move into a pre-defined zone, the narrative begins. On average, one story takes 90 seconds. The radar shows the direction of view so that the object can be located.

"What we need now is feedback," says Matthias Stalder. As many travellers as possible should test the app and contact the developers, so that a user test can be carried out. The further development of the app will be based on this. In addition to this data, one thing is needed above all: money. "We are looking for donors. Some investments are pending." Matthias Stadler carried out the research of the stories for the prototype, and the footage was taken by friends.

"We’ll now have to use professional services, and that costs money."

The developers also want to try to earn something with their app. For example, by making travellers aware of third-party offers, such as displaying the route to a bakery that offers the local speciality. There are many other ideas here, too, and the potential is great.

For more information, please visit: www.spiri.voyage