The Internet has revolutionized home improvement in a lot of ways. On the most basic level, increased availability of information has made it easier to do things yourself, and tackle projects that would otherwise require a professional. You can learn just about anything on YouTube, WikiHow has an article for everything under the sun, and there’s a forum for practically any other question you might have. The only problem is that, while the Web is great for finding facts and documents, it often falls short for more nuanced questions like, “why is my faucet leaking?” or “does this air filter look clogged?”
Fountain –an brand new app that recently launched in Beta form– aims to solve this problem. Rather than forcing you to scour through forum threads and crowdsourced answer sites, or set up an appointment with a local service professional, the app allows you to video chat with a credible home improvement expert precisely when you need to.
The first thing you’ll see when you fire up the app is a simple question: What are you stuck on? Answer this question however you like, and Fountain’s artificial intelligence engine will analyze your response and then provide you with a curated list of experts who can provide some insight.
From there, you’re free to initiate a one-on-one HD video chat with the expert of your choosing — but it’s more than just a simple Skype call or Google Hangout. The app also allows you to snap photos, annotate them to point out specific problems, and even share links and other relevant information to paint a clearer picture of what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s basically a faster, more immediate way to get a professional in your house. Instead of calling up somebody you found in the yellow pages and waiting for them to show up at your house, you can connect almost instantly over the web and bring them into your home virtually with the help of a mobile device.
Currently, the app itself is a free download (once you’re invited), but each question you ask costs five bucks. But it’s not exactly a flat fee either — your five dollars buys you a certain amount of talk time with an expert, and the time limit varies depending on what you’re inquiring about. You’ll get about 15 minutes for Gardening and Plumbing advice, 12 minutes for Appliance repair, and 10 minutes for Interior Design. If you need more time, it goes in $5 increments.
That might sound a bit steep for a mobile app, but when you consider the fact that an in-person service calls can often cost quadruple that amount per hour (if not more), five bucks starts to sound pretty reasonable — especially if the service is immediate and on-demand. Find out more or sign up for the Beta program here.