Imagine this: You're walking home alone and you feel nervous. It's late and you're unsure of the neighborhood. Instead of having to decide whether to have 911 pre-dialed or calling a friend and hoping they pick up in an emergency, you have someone with you, already ready to call 911 for you.
That's the idea behind a new app called Companion, developed by students at the University of Michigan. Companion works by allowing users to request "companions" in their contacts before venturing out alone, while also having the capability of detecting alarming changes in movement and calling police if need be.
You don't even need to have your phone in your hand and your chosen companion doesn't even need the app themselves.
Here's how it works:
Step 1: Plug in your destination and ask someone to be your walking companion.
Step 2: They'll watch to make sure you get to your destination. If there's a change in movement (falling, running), you will have 15 seconds to a press button that will deactivate the potential alert system. But if you don't ...
An alarm will come from your phone to scare the threat away, and you and your companion will have the option of calling 911.
Step 3: If you arrive to your destination without emergency, your safety companion will be notified.
Lexie Ernst, co-founder of the Companion app, and majoring in business and minoring in computer science, told International Business Times that students (male and female alike) and parents from both inside and outside of the U.S. are downloading the app.
"Since we launched, we've had dozens of emails from people in the U.S., as well as many other countries like the UK, Belgium, France and Norway," she said.
The app is now free, but according to Business Insider, the founders work with universities to make money, the goal being to get schools to use their app as a primary safety tool on campus. Though rapes are primarily committed by someone the victim knows, sexual assaults still happen more often at random on the street or in parks, as well as other offenses such as robberies.
Having a walking buddy at all times isn't something you'll lie to your mom about having anyway. It's now a reality.