As parents know, it is not uncommon for children to wander off in public places. This is particularly true for children on the autism spectrum or with other special needs.
To address this challenge, a team of student entrepreneurs from Georgia Tech has created BuddyEye to help parents easily track and locate a lost child. The wristband uses a combination of Bluetooth and GPS technologies to alert parents when their child leaves a specified area.
During the research phase of their project, team members found that 60 percent of parents with children on the autism spectrum reported that their child had gone missing for more than an hour at least once. This can be distressing for children and parents alike, especially in crowded public spaces like zoos, shopping malls, or amusement parks.
“We wanted to give these and other parents another set of eyes to keep track of their children and an efficient way to find them should they wander off," said Tillson Galloway, Invenovate co-founder and second-year computer science student.
The developers are including software that alerts a store or other location that a child using BuddyEye is lost. Once alerted, store employees can lock doors, make appropriate announcements, and take other steps to help find the child quickly.
“BuddyEye provides a safety net. It vibrates, immediately notifying the parent when their child moves beyond a designated range. It also lets the child know that they are out of range so they will hopefully head back toward their parent,” said Galloway.
While the rest of the team – mechanical engineering students Alejandro Campos and Mark Saad, and Andre Prieto, an industrial design student from Universidad de las Américas in Ecuador – is primarily tasked with developing the hardware, Tillson is leading the charge on the application itself.
He says the BuddyEye platform is being developed using Facebook’s React Native, an open-source mobile application framework.
“What’s great about React Native is that it lets developers build apps for IOS, Android, and the web without having to separately code for each platform,” Galloway said.
The students behind BuddyEye are currently participating in Georgia Tech’s annual CREATE-X Launch program. Their startup company is known as Invenovate.
Although the CREATE-X Launch competition runs through the summer, BuddyEye has already earned a positive response.
The team also entered its product in the recently participated Ideas to Serve (I2S) competition sponsored by Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business. The team won first place and $2,500 in the Solutions Discovery Track of the annual I2S competition. They were also winners of the Best Pitch Award, which earned them an additional $500.