App created by University of Michigan students helps get people home safely

Companion app follows user's path, alerts friends, family if there's trouble

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - An app created by five University of Michigan students is helping make sure people get home safer.

"We all felt individually and collectively a need for increased safety on campus," said Lexie Ernst, one of the creators of the Companion App. "We realized that technology would be the perfect way to address this issue, so we just started white-boarding ideas and coming up with a plan of how we best feel we can make an impact and a few weeks later Companion app was born." 

To use the app, a user puts in the address of where he or she is headed and picks some friends to follow the trip.

 The companions follow the user's progress as he or she walks to the location.  

If the user feels nervous, he or she can tap on the app, which alerts the companions.

"If something goes wrong on the way, if you start running or your headphones get yanked out, if you go off course or you're not there on time, your companions will automatically be notified with our real time triggers," co-creator Katie Reiner said.

The app was released in September and had a half-million users within a couple of weeks.

The app creators quickly realized that their app could be used by all demographics, not just college students.

"Any parent that wants to look out for their kid, so moms, you have young professionals, you have moms using it with their husbands, husbands using it with their wives, moms using it with their parents the elderly so you really see this being used in every single market with every demographic," Reiner said.

 

Amanda Kaplan, a University of Michigan senior from New York, said she uses the app two to three times a week. 

Sometimes her parents are her companions, even though they are in New York.

"Walking in the city alone is definitely scary," Kaplan said. "I used to like make fake phone calls. Now it's just so easy knowing someone's actually watching you." 

For more information on the companion app or to check it out www.companionapp.io

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