How smartphone tracking can help us feel secure, even when our nearest friend is miles away.
image via (cc) flickr user drewleavy
For many of us, the phrase “cell phone tracking” calls to mind images of police surveillance, or NSA snooping. There is, however, another side to our smartphone’s ability to pinpoint our every move. It’s one which, rather than compromise a user’s privacy, is ultimately intended to keep them safe, and secure.
It’s this sense of security which the makers of Companion, a new app for both iPhone and Android, hope to accomplish.
image via companion
It’s a fairly simple concept: People who are uncomfortable walking home alone at night can use the app to designate friends and family from their phone’s contact list as “companions”. Those companions monitor that user’s progress as they stumble home from a bar, walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood, or set out on any other potentially unsafe journey. When the person makes it home safely, their companion is notified, allowing everyone to sleep easy. The app also allows users to easily contact the police in case of an emergency, as well as checks in on the user if they determine something is amiss.
Per Companion’s app store description:
All you have to do is enter your destination and select some contacts to be your Companion. They don't even need the app installed. These Companions see a live map of your progress and get updates as you make it from Point A to Point B. If you start running, don't make it to your destination on time, have your headphones yanked out or your phone falls to the ground, we will check in on you to make sure everything is okay. If you don't respond in 15 seconds, we will automatically alert your Companions.
You can also report areas on your campus that make you uneasy. Simply tap the "I Feel Nervous" button and we'll pass this information on to your campus police department. Don't worry, everything is anonymous. They won't respond with sirens or flashing lights, but they will work to make this area safer in the future.
If there's an emergency, you can call 9-1-1 from our app with just two taps. We will connect you to the closest dispatcher and provide them with your location.
In some ways, Companion can be seen as an extension of the same principal behind Apple’s popular “Find my iPhone” app: Using our smartphone’s GPS service to remotely track movement from a distance. Here, though, the service doesn’t simply help connect you to a lost item. Instead, it affords users the sense of comfort that comes with being among friends.
Admittedly, there are likely some people who will find any type of location tracking, no matter how benevolent the intent, to be an uncomfortable invasion of privacy. Still, for those who worry about traveling by themselves, Companion may be a simple way to both feel secure, and get home safe.
[via design taxi]