Never Run Alone Again with New Personal Safety App
ITHACA, NY — An average of 237,868 people are sexually assaulted each year, a shocking number that becomes even more alarming when it's personal. When Adam Peruta, an avid runner and running coach, heard his friend was sexually assaulted while running alone, he knew he had to do something.
Peruta, assistant professor in the Department of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College, was inspired to create Yank, an app that allows people to alert friends and family when they’re in a dangerous situation or in need of assistance.
Yank works in the background of a user’s phone while they listen to music through their headphones. If the user feels threatened or sustains an injury, they can simply yank their headphones out and an alert with their mapped GPS location is sent to designated emergency contacts via email and text message within seconds.
When headphones are yanked out, the phone beeps and a 20 second countdown begins, allowing the user to cancel the alert sequence if triggered accidentally. If the user is in immediate danger, they can tap the screen to skip the countdown and send the alert immediately.
“One important thing to note is that the alert sequence triggers are scheduled immediately in the cloud,” said Peruta. “This was done because an attacker may take the phone and smash it, and we want to be sure the message goes out every single time.”
Although Yank was created with runners in mind, Pertua says it can be useful for anyone who encounters an issue while alone.
Peruta developed the app on the Startup Bus, a competition that puts a team of strangers on a bus and challenges them to create a startup in 72 hours. The trip ends at the popular South by Southwest annual conference, where competitors pitch their idea to a panel of judges. Peruta is still partnered with one of his teammates from the bus, and they have been working with Citrrus, an app development company, to update Yank and roll out new features.
“Our future plan includes getting Alarm Charms or little plugs made that would fit into the headphone jack to activate the alarm feature in lieu of headphones. Yanking the Charm would activate the alert sequence like the headphones do now,” said Peruta. “Users see the value in the app and would like it to be available outside of just using it with headphones.”
Currently, Yank is only available on iOS7 devices but Peruta hopes to expand. He is looking into creating an enterprise version of the app that would tie into college campus public safety systems, and eventually Yank could partner with a 24/7 call center.
For more information on Yank, visit yankalerts.com.