Photo by Steven Depolo

You never know where business networking may lead you. During a Bay City After 6 meeting, Kara Binghman, owner of Bay City's Aligned Designs, met Mike Weiss of MJ Media in Essexville and struck up a conversation. Bingham had the idea for a cell phone application that would make her life easier, but she didn't have the skills to bring that idea to life. Weiss had the technical know-how, so took on Bingham as a client. Working closely with Bingham throughout the development process, Weiss was able to create an app that did exactly what she needed

Although a professional in the design industry for 11 years, Bingham started to focus on green design in 2010. Green design emphasizes making buildings of all kinds friendlier to the environment. People wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, use better materials, or reduce the use of water or heat come to Aligned Designs for an environmental audit. 

Bingham asked Weiss if he could program a phone app to make her work with clients more efficient. "The Watersaver Calculator is something that I wanted to have on hand when I go to clients' homes to do a water efficiency analysis, which is one of services I provide," says Bingham. "Rather than doing it by hand, I can enter a few pieces of information and the calculation is done in seconds."

The app calculates how many gallons of water and how much money homeowners can save by purchasing a more energy-efficient showerhead. By entering local water rates, gallons per minute of current and future showerheads, and information about household showering habits, homeowners will learn the total water and cost savings weekly, monthly and yearly.

For MJ Media, Watersaver Calculator is their first entry into the mobile phone app market, making them one of the few local companies creating mobile phone apps. According to Weiss, the decision to make the app available to the Android market was an easy decision. "We chose the Android platform not only because Kara uses an Android phone, but because we see some incredible opportunity in the Android market," says Weiss. "It gives us more flexibility with what we can do, plus gives us the opportunity to list the application immediately."

Both parties report that the collaboration is the first of several planned apps. "Our plans are to develop similar calculators down the road," Weiss says, "eventually rolling them into a suite of tools."

The 99-cent app can be purchased through the Android market by searching for "Watersaver Calculator." Bingham says that homeowners or renters will find that the savings they can get with this knowledge makes the app more than worth its modest price. 

For more information on Aligned Designs, visit www.aligneddesigns.net. For more information on MJ Media, visit www.mjmediateam.com.