Riding the South Shore commuter train into Chicago, Hobart resident Greg Koons noticed everyone on their tablets and smartphones.
He also noticed South Shore schedules littering cars and stations as well as newbie riders searching for their stop.
"I wanted to do something local that would help people," the 31-year-old app developer said. "I said to myself, 'It would be nice if they had something on their phones they could use.' "
Thus came the inspiration for the iSouthShore app, which is now used by thousands of South Shore riders to generate customized schedules, identify station stops and get service alerts on train status.
The application is available in both iOS version and Android, meaning it can run on just about any smartphone. Koons shot many of the photos himself. He credits graphic designer Matt Renstrom with providing its crisp look.
Since its introduction two years ago, the app has gained recognition from South Shore commuter rail operator, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. The transportation agency now gives visitors its website access to the app via clickable icons featured at the bottom of the home page.
The iSouthShore app costs just 99 cents. It is available through the App Store on iTunes and at Google Play. There also is an iMetra app developed by Koons for $1.99.
"I still ride on the train sometimes and I see people using the app once in awhile and it feels pretty cool," Koons said.
Koons developed the app when he was freelancing application development for a living. He's now working full time for a Fortune 500 company developing apps. But he continues to develop some projects on his own through his company, Livoid Smartphone Development.
Koons earned his degree in electrical engineering at Purdue University in 2005, so it has been a bit of a career journey from there to where he is now.
Koons got turned on to app development while working as a contract computer programmer in region steel mills after graduation. One day his employer gave him an iPhone.
"I just started playing with it and I said, 'I could make an app for that.' "