Tyler Delargy of Bangor and business partner Anthony Caccese are on a mission to bring humanity and security back to the internet.
To do this, the University of Maine students created Real Time Reality, an online service that gives users a secure and private identity management tool, allowing users to manage their information and privacy online at a time when tracking users’ data is a major trade.
“Our mission is an ethical one; we’re on a crusade to try to fix the internet,” said Delargy, 20. “Our product provides people with a secure and private identity management tool so they can manage their data and privacy online and assure it only ever goes where they intend it to go. It’s basically a secure vault for anything you want to put in there.”
Last week, the pair won the final round of the 2021-22 Big Gig season, a competition in which Maine entrepreneurs pitch their early-stage business or product ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of business professionals and innovators. The judges and audience members then vote on their favorite idea or product.
Delargy said he and Caccese will use the $5,000 Big Gig prize to pay a summer intern and purchase necessary equipment to grow their business.
In addition to offering users a way to protect their data, Real Time Reality will also allow users to use virtual reality equipment to create a 3D version of themselves and interact with other verified users, Delargy said. This online replica of the real world will let people interact with one another while seeing faces, facial expressions and body language.
“As the internet moves into new and exciting 3D spaces, we’ll truthfully represent someone in those spaces,” Delargy said. “You’ll have the total assurance that the people you interact with are real people being presented in real time. It’s a total one-to-one reflection of the real world.”
Delargy said he and Caccese began developing this product “in the dark days of COVID” when everyday social interactions moved online. The transition to an online space already riddled with robots and impersonators posing as real people stripped users of their autonomy and assurance that they were interacting with other real humans.
“With the fastest information sharing we’ve ever had and the lowest level of trustworthiness, how do we verify that the people we interact with are real people?” Delargy said. “Two-thirds of the internet today is populated by bots and impersonators. We get rid of all of that by assuring people using this service are real human beings.”
Delargy said a test version of the software will be available this summer. In its final version, Delargy said it will be free to users.
Delargy credited Bangor High School’s STEM program for teaching him how to take a problem and find a solution through extensive trial and error. He said that is what first sparked his interest in engineering and made him want to become an entrepreneur.
Delargy said he will graduate with a computer science degree from the University of Maine this spring.
More articles from the BDN