For just 1 euro, a new mobile application allows you to stay connected with those closest to you so that you can check where they are every moment of the day and quickly find out how to reach them in case of an accident or emergency.
SafeBeep, the first mobile app to be launched by new Greek company Innovative Applications, made its debut in Greece in April through the Vodafone network and already has over 5,000 users.
The idea was conceived and developed by an Athenian programmer with four children who wanted to ease his worries about where they were and whether they were OK when they weren’t with him. However, when Vassilis Hatzatoglou, at the time working at a major software firm, shared his concept with a few colleagues, it was instantly shot down. “It can’t be done. It’s a waste of time,” they told him.
One day, though, he met Spiros Kaisaris, a fellow programmer with a degree in computer science and digital circuits, who believed Hatzatoglou might be on to something. Once the project started to take shape, the pair sought a business partner, someone who could help them find funding. That’s how businessman and developer Dimitris Kontogiannis got involved, becoming president and managing director of Innovative Applications.
“A friend called me and said: ‘I met two scientists and they have this good idea. They need to develop it and find funding. Will you meet with them?’ I said sure,” Kontogiannis explains. “We met and they told me about SafeBeep. I immediately felt it was something I was interested in personally and would suit the needs of a lot of people. But I needed to be convinced that it could work because even their colleagues were skeptical. When they told me that their idea had come third in an international competition organized by the Spanish company Telefonica among 4,5000 participants – losing first place because the boys refused to move to Spain and launch the app as a Spanish product – then I knew we had something good.
“We told ourselves that because what we were planning was crazy, we would go about it as though we were not Greek, as though everything was ideal, without restraint. We set up a company with Greek and foreign investors we were easily able to find because it was a winning idea, and we created a friendly work environment, because this is where we were to spend many, many hours.”
The truth is that the company headquarters is an exceptionally pleasant space where it’s easy to forget about the country’s general problems. It has a staff of 15, 12 of whom are programmers, and three administrators. Every day they exchange new ideas and thoughts on how to keep moving up.
Other than SafeBeep, which has also been launched in Albania (where it has 15,000 users), the company is working on five more pioneering applications, with the first slated to be launched in September.
“We could have launched SafeBeep across Europe with Vodafone, which has exclusivity over the application for one year, but we wanted to preserve its ‘Greekness,’ at least at the start,” explains Kontogiannis. “We want to produce Greek products, to prove that Greece can produce cutting-edge technology. I believe in Greek intellect. It is our biggest export force.”
How it works
SafeBeep features a complete automatic multi-level alarm and monitoring system, activated in the case of accidents and life-threatening situations, and available on Android and iOS.
The application is downloaded and installed on the smartphone of a “Protected member” and enables them to connect with so-called guardians and other “family” members. It serves as an everyday life monitoring service that runs silently on your smartphone’s operating system and kicks into action only when an emergency situation arises.
It offers different types of alarms that alert users when someone in the network is at risk by SMS, e-mail or both. The car accident alarm notifies guardians of a road accident, the status of the family member and how they can be reached. The body fall alarm detects the impact of a fall and the location of the person who had the accident. This alarm is particularly useful for elderly family members.
The safety perimeter breach alarm is designed especially for guardians with children or elderly family members suffering from dementia and alerts them when they have strayed away from a set perimeter.
There is also a silent alarm that allows family members at risk to alert their guardian without being noticed and an SOS emergency alarm that alerts other family members. There is a speed limit violation feature, as well as one allowing the guardian to track the location of family members and a check-in feature whereby one family member can inform others of his or her location.
To learn more about the application, log on to www.safebeep.com.
This article first appeared in Kathimerini’s Sunday supplement K.