Utahn creates app to help identify bars and restaurants

WEST POINT - A Utah man’s app is getting attention all because of the subject matter.

Josh Lytle is the creator of the ‘Not A Bar’ app. He said it took him about two years to create it, and the app evolved from a joke.

"It was probably a year and a half ago all these signs started coming up," Lytle said.

Those signs went up as part of the legislation to bring down "Zion Curtains", which were barriers installed in restaurants to prevent minors from seeing drinks prepared.

As fast as those signs went up, though, all of them came right back down after Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill last March.  That may have changed the law, but it didn't stop Lytle's inspiration.

"I just thought it would be funny to take it one step further," he said.

That one step further turned into a fully functional app.

Users can take a photo within the app to capture their surroundings, and then the app uses Apple's machine learning tech to figure out where you are.

Lytle says he fed the app close to a million images and split them into 365 categories. From there he built a model that the app uses to compare what it's learned from them to the picture you take with your phone.

Now the app is just starting to take off.

“There’s been a number of people I’ve shared it with outside the state and they enjoy it but, they’re not quite in on the joke,” Lytle said.

While the app may be a joke, for the most part, Lytle says it took a lot of work to get it approved by Apple.

"The first time they rejected it they were citing a guideline that there was no useful functionality, and, I get it, they’re trying to cut down on fart apps," Lytle said.

The Utah-based app developer then got to work making the app more useful and accessible for the visually impaired and hard of hearing.

While the app may not be everyone's cup of tea, Lytle says it has its uses. For example, if you end up in a bar but want a restaurant it will pull up all the nearby restaurants. The same thing goes for if you're in a restaurant but want a bar.

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