Sunday, 22 October 2017

Don’t lose a loved one

A SOFTWARE company in Henley has launched a mobile phone app to help carers keep track of vulnerable people.

A SOFTWARE company in Henley has launched a mobile phone app to help carers keep track of vulnerable people.

Added Value Applications, of Station Road, developed Map4Map, which links two smart phones, one for the carer and the other for their subject.

Maps and routes deemed to be “safe” areas of movement are created and if the vulnerable person goes outside the perimeters a notification is sent to the carer’s device to raise the alarm. Ian Pettman, managing director of Added Value Applications, came up with the idea after his mother Betty began to suffer from a memory-related illness believed to be Alzheimer’s.

Mr Pettman, 60, of Makins Road, Henley, said: “She regularly visited friends but started getting lost and was found wandering in people’s gardens a mile away, asking where the centre of Henley was. When you are in the situation of a carer you are quite often in it for the first time and finding support is quite difficult.”

His mother lived in the same road but didn’t want him to move in with her because she valued her independence and freedom.

“If I had the pressure of living with her it would have had an effect on me as well, so it effectively gave us both independence,” said Mr Pettman.

However, he felt he needed to know where she was at all times, so he sought a solution. Mr Pettman said: “I started developing an app to easily draw where I knew she would be on a map. That updated her mobile and if she got lost it would send me a message to where she was.

“It struck me that if it worked for me then it would work for other people.”

While he was developing the software, Mr Pettman’s mother’s condition deteriorated quickly and she died in November, aged 84.

The app won £8,500 in the Ericsson Application Awards for new software that helps people in an urban society.

Mr Pettman said: “We knew we had a good idea because the software was interesting and one of the very modern machine-to-machine apps but to be recognised by a multi-national main player in the telecoms industry is very satisfying.” He said the prize money had helped to pay for the cost of developing the software.

One of the questions the company faced in the judging process was about the ethics of surveillance.

Mr Pettman said the app was not a hidden device as it was always visible on the receiver’s phone and if the phone was lost the maps could be retrieved from the app’s website.

The app is currently available for Android and Windows phones, while iPhone and Blackberry versions are being designed. It can be downloaded in mobile app stores or by visiting www.map4map.com

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