The iPhone (s aapl) has been quietly taking money out of people’s pockets with its addictive apps. But a new app is looking to put some money back, by turning iPhone users into an on-demand mobile workforce. Gigwalk is launching publicly in the App Store after a six-month beta, offering a way for iPhone users to make up to $1,600 a month doing temporary mobile tasks like collecting and reporting real world data with their phones.
The app allows companies of all sizes to quickly deploy mobile workers that can send back data from the field. Real estate companies can use it to get pictures of properties, product companies can find out if retailers are properly featuring their wares and mapping providers can use it to confirm points of interest or a street name. TomTom, for instance, uses Gigwalk to verify its maps.
Ariel Seidman, CEO and co-founder of Gigwalk, said the iPhone is creating the opportunity to build a purpose-based network where companies can leverage the distribution of all of these phones for business purposes. That in turn can create a new economy that benefits both companies and iPhone users looking for some extra money.
“We’re turning iPhones into a global workforce where businesses can collect real-world data on the ground,” Seidman.
Gigwalk is also announcing a $1.7 million seed round today, with investment from Reid Hoffman of Greylock Discovery Fund, Jeff Clavieer of Softech VC, Michael Dearing of Harrison Metal, Bill Trenchard of Founder Collective and Alex Lloyd of Accelerator Ventures.
Seidman said Gigwalk — which is available in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Miami — is replacing work that used to go to temp agencies and Craigslist. But the company is not just trying to bring employers and iPhone users together, it’s creating a routing system that uses reputation to deliver jobs to the most proficient nearby Gigwalkers. Gigwalkers can earn anywhere from $3 to $90 or each gig with a $1,600 cap each month. Seidman said Gigwalkers in the beta were often people with seasonal jobs and students.
Seidman said that with its public launch, companies can submit their own gigs without having to coordinate with Gigwalk. He said there are a wide array of applications for this kind of work, giving companies access to a pair of eyes on the street at any time. He expects companies will eventually integrate Gigwalk into their business plans, leaning on its workforce for more and more jobs. Gigwalk wins by taking in a percentage of each job payment.
I think Gigwalk is a cool idea and a logical step for companies already looking to outsource small tasks. Devices like the iPhone are turning into real world sensors that can report back all kinds of data. Why not harness that distributed power and call upon it when you need it? These devices are not just able to capture data but they’re able to report back instantly over wireless networks. It’s a win both for companies needing temporary help and iPhone users looking for a little spending cash. If they’re like me, they could use some more money after all the apps they’ve downloaded.