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From emergency-response smartphone apps to GPS-based safety-alert systems for seniors on the go, South Florida tech companies have come up with a range of personal safety products that make life easier – and safer.
Holly Giuliano often works late in downtown Fort Lauderdale and hates walking into a parking garage by herself. “You wish you could have someone with you or do something that assures your safety,” said Giuliano, an educator at the Museum of Art.
Two weeks ago she took matters into her own hands, literally — downloading the Android app MyFlare. For a one-time fee of $2.49, the app can call for help in case of an emergency and send your exact location via GPS to police with a push of a button.
Developed by a company of the same name based in Boca Raton, MyFlare will soon be available for iPhone and Blackberry users. The application calls 911 or any emergency contact you designate; sends text messages and emails to 10 pre-selected contacts; and forwards short video recordings of whatever is happening to you.
“I also like that the app will sound an alarm so someone nearby would also know I need help,” Giuliano said. (For information: http://myflareapplication.com/)
Curbing car accidents is a major goal for local app makers.
“Mobile phone carriers and applications developers are jumping into the game of enabling customers to ‘Keep your eyes on the road, and your hands on the wheel,’ ” said Jacques Hart, CEO of Roar Media and board member of the the South Florida Technology Alliance. “These personal safety apps, aimed at curbing texting while driving, are a great thing and a much-needed solution, especially in states like Florida.”
Adds Hart: “Some of these personal safety mobile apps are being developed in South Florida, which reaffirms the area’s emergence as a technology hub.”
Here’s a look at a handful of locally made products.
ADT Pulse for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. ADT, based in Boca Raton, has created a mobile app that helps subscribers manage personal and home safety for use with any Web-enabled device. Users can check the status of their home security, receive text and video alerts of events at their homes, arm or disarm their alarms, monitor doors, windows and motion sensors, view live video via security cameras, and adjust lights and temperature for comfort, electrical safety or energy-efficiency. Visit: http://www.adtpulse.com/home/how-pulse-works/mobile/.
PhoneGuard for Android, Blackberry devices. This free app, made by Options Media Group in Boca Raton, blocks texting, Web surfing and email while a teen or other user is in a moving car; automatically replies to anyone who sends the user a text or email, saying the person is busy and will return the message later; and detects when a car is moving, allowing a user to access all the functions of a mobile device when the car is stopped. You can also deactivate these features whenever you are a passenger in a car. Visit http://www.phoneguard.com.
NOTXT n’ Drive app for Blackberry devices. Also free, this app GPS-enabled application disables a device from making or receiving calls and sending email or text messages when a user is in a car moving at 10 mph or greater. The functions also resume when the car comes to a stop. Developed by NOTXT Communications in Orlando, it’s available at Blackberry App World.
MobileHelp GPS medical alert system, $35 per month. Developed by a Boca Raton health care technology company, MobileHelp is the first system that provides emergency assistance to users at home and away. This product is great for anyone who is elderly or who has a medical condition, such as a heart problem, Alzheimer’s or Down’s Syndrome. I would also suggest it for parents of young children who want extra assurance when the child goes on field trips or a bike ride to the store.
The system uses satellite-technology to track users who can press a button on the supplied cellular device to be automatically connected to a medical technician. The MobileHelp technician can use the GPS feature to find the user’s exact location to send help. Cost for the system starts at $34.95 per month, which covers the cost for AT&T GPS service. Even better, the company offers a 30-day risk-free trial. Visit
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