Let’s say your dishwasher goes haywire, making a grinding noise and continuously spewing soap everywhere. Panicked, you briefly consider calling 911 to report a dishwasher emergency before calmer thoughts prevail and you look up a number for an appliance repair person.
Despite making it clear to the person who answers your call that this is an emergency, they tell you that they can’t get to your home for three weeks. Reluctantly, you give them your contact information, record the appointment time, hang up, and look forlornly at your dishwasher, now flooding your floor with a soapy, soupy, watery goo.
Everyone knows that waiting, waiting, and waiting some more for a pro to fix your stuff or give you an estimate is commonplace. But the founders of Streem, an augmented-reality app that “beams” a professional to your home instantly, want to fix that by reducing wait time from a few weeks to a few minutes.
This is how Streem works: You need someone to take a look at a broken refrigerator, or give you an estimate on building a fence, so you contact the appropriate company and request a quote. But instead of playing the waiting game to get the company to your house, the company sends you a text invite to Streem, giving you the opportunity to talk with a home professional right away.
Once you download the app (which uses Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore technology), you can connect with a representative from the company in a video-chat like format. You’re able to show the pro what’s wrong or what you’d like to have done, and they’re able to see the situation firsthand. Using their voice, arrow tools, annotations, and a laser pointer, they can direct you to zoom in or pan out to look at things like appliance model numbers or leaky pipes. They can take measurements, record video, or take pictures through the app, determine what needs to be done, and provide you with a quote – all without stepping into your home.
“Streem is consistently saving pros countless wasted man-hours unnecessarily traveling on-site unprepared”
“Streem is consistently saving pros countless wasted man-hours unnecessarily traveling on-site unprepared, and offers pros tools for a whole new level of efficiency and collaboration,” said Ryan Fink, CEO and co-founder of the Portland-based company. “For the consumer that means not having to wait days, or sometimes weeks, for a professional to go on-site for an in-person quote or support.”
Right now, customers must be invited by a professional to use Streem, but the founders envision that eventually anyone with a need for a home service professional — whether it be a plumber, landscaper, or handyman — will be able to connect with a professional simply by searching through a list of local pros available on the app.
Home professional companies who have incorporated Streem into their business practice see the product as a lifesaver.
“If you were to call my office right now and ask for an onsite estimate, you would hear me say that I’m booked out for several weeks,” Brian Kemnitz, CEO of Portland-based Pearl Painters, told Digital Trends. “That’s option one. Or option two — I can text you an invite to Streem, and we can be discussing your project as if I were at your house in minutes. Within the hour I can have a detailed proposal in your hands for approval.”
Streem is partnering with HomeAdvisor on the app and already has a long list of home professional companies working with them to provide services across the country. Professionals can join Streem for a free trial period, but then pay a monthly fee afterward. The service is free to customers.
The app won’t supplant the need for an in-home visit, Fink noted, but it will give the customer peace of mind knowing that the problem will be taken care of and gives the professional the ability to have just the right tools and parts on hand when they do arrive.
“Streem really brings (professionals) on site in minutes,” Patrick Ezell, CRO and head of growth, told Digital Trends. “This isn’t a YouTube video. It’s so much more personal than that.”
The founders envision that eventually the app could be used for more than just connecting people with home professionals. For example, perhaps down the line a home cook could use the app to connect with a professional chef. The possibilities for connection, Fink said, are endless.
Meanwhile, Kemnitz notes that Streem has made a profound difference in how he does business.
“Turnaround time from phone call to estimate in hand has gone from days or weeks to minutes,” Kemnitz said. “It’s a game changer, and all contractors should be using it.”
Updated March 2018 to note that Streem now works with Google’s ARCore technology.