A wearable app that reports on its wearer’s position promises reliability in caring for the elderly, writes Trish Dromey
Co Wicklow company Showoff is working on the development of an innovative wearable technology app which will be used to aid independent living for the elderly and people with medical conditions.
Winner of a Best Young Entrepreneur Award in the South East region, Showoff aims to be the first to launch an application for wearable technology in this space.
Called Responder, it is being built for use with the Apple watch which is due out early next year and also with Android Wear and iOS and Android phones.
“Responder can be used to pinpoint the GPS location of the wearer when they are in need of help. It can detect if the wearer has had a fall or a seizure and notify their first responder’’ says company co-founder and chief technical officer Philip Kirwan.
He says the people who respond can communicate with the wearer. While there are now a number of apps and devices in this space, Mr Kirwan says this is the only one involving wearable technology and is the only one not tied to a specific location.
“Other monitors of this kind don’t work when people leave their homes but this app gives people back their independence and their freedom,’’ he says.
Showoff has been in existence since 2012 and has until now concentrated on building apps for other companies.
“We have built up a team and are now ready to show off what we can do and develop apps of our own,’’ says co-founder and CEO Shane Byrne. Working in app development since 2008 Mr Kirwan completed a masters in web technologies in 2012. Mr Byrnehas a degree in finance and had previously worked in the finance sector.
“We decided to explore the new and emerging markets for mobile solutions. We started in late 2012 with just the two of us and a MacBook in Shane’s kitchen,’’ says Mr Kirwan.
The two entrepreneurs had dreams of developing their own products, but felt that the best way to generate revenue quickly and build a team was to sell app development services to other companies. Within a few weeks of setting up, they found their first customer, a start-up company which wanted to develop a healthcare application. Since then they have developed apps for a range of clients including radio stations, agricultural companies and start- ups.
The most publicised of their apps to date was LockOut, an application which allowed users to plan ahead on a night out.
“We developed Lock-Out for a County Wexford-based client and Phlok, an app which gives incentives to people to shop locally for a Northern Irish company.
“We have also developed applications for a Dublin start-up company using augmented reality app for social exploration” says Mr Byrne.
With some support from the Enterprise Office in Wicklow, Showoff moved out of the kitchen and into a unit in Wicklow Enterprise Centre. In 2013 the company took on its first employees, a developer and a graphic designer. Since then the staff size has grown to eight.
The two men had always planned to develop an in-house company app and when Mr Byrne’s father developed epilepsy they came up with a product idea.
They say the capability of the technology in Responder surpasses any other product of this kind on the market and they believe it has potential to be sold internationally. The initial market is elderly people who are at risk of falls and also people with illnesses like epilepsy or Alzheimer’s who can be tracked with this technology.
Showoff has applied for a patent on the technology which is now at the final stages of being tested.
Shane Byrne and Philip Kirwan.
Mobile app development.
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