Allosentry was inspired by a personal experience. And an experience that some of you may have faced, but also one that I hope all of you never have to experience. A missing child.
It was October 2016, Saturday night.
I took my 3-year-old twin boys to meet my friend’s family at an arcade. The place was not what I had expected, really not meant for little kids.
I never intended on staying for more than a few minutes. I let the boys play a few games: first, miniature bowling; then, the video car race.
Both kids were pretending to drive when I quickly glanced at my phone to check the time.
When I looked up, Elliot was gone. I had a missing child.
I immediately called out to him and looked around the machine, but he was not there. My pleas escalated to a scream, but my voice was no match for all the noise surrounding me. I did not know what to do.
I read many books and articles in preparation for my twins. Baby proofing, toddler recipes, learn through play, etc., but nothing prepared me for this moment. What to do when your child wanders off? What do you do when all of a sudden, you have a missing child?
Time flew by and stood still all at the same time.
I was in full panic mode and every horrible thought poured through my head.
What do I do?!?!
Go look for him or stay here in case he comes back?
I scooped up the older twin and continued my frantic search. Luckily, after the longest 5 minutes of my life, I saw Elliot – safe, scared, crying, and being comforted by a group of young adults. I ran over to thank them and embraced Elliot like only a mother could after such an experience.
As I shared my experience with friends and family, it became readily apparent how common this problem actually is.
“Oh my god, I lost my kid too! He ran out of the restaurant and almost into the street!” and “I reached into the pool to grab a floaty, next thing you know, my kid was gone.” Then I asked people if they knew what to do if it were to happen again? No one seemed to know. “Help, I have a missing child,” just doesn’t cut it.
How can such a common problem not have an adequate answer?
During our research, we uncovered several haunting statistics: In North America alone, a child under the age of 18 is reported missing roughly every 40 seconds. 8 million children under the age of 18 are reported missing annually around the world.
Similarly, in the US, up to 4 million patients with Alzheimer’s are reported missing annually. And these are only the reported cases. It precludes unreported situations like my experience above and those of my friends and family.
I knew at that moment, we, as parents, needed a solution. It didn’t matter whether it was 5 minutes or an hour, the feeling of helplessness and panic was the worst experience I have ever had to endure. And I was determined to never be in that situation again.
So I searched – literally, around the world. GPS trackers, Bluetooth trackers, stickers, dog tags, temporary tattoos, leashes for children – you name it, I looked into it. But there were glaring issues with each of the existing solutions, rendering them either expensive, ineffective, impractical, or all of the above.
GPS and Bluetooth trackers on the market today are devices kept with the child in the case of an emergency. And the idea is that the parent can track the location of the device in real time via an app. Sounds good in theory, but there are a number of issues from a practical standpoint.
GPS devices are cost prohibitive due to the device and its associated recurring monthly fees, you have to remember to outfit your child with the GPS or Bluetooth device; and even then, they may be apt to remove the device.
The GPS tracker’s battery needs to be charged regularly and eventually replaced; as such, there is nothing to guarantee the device will have battery during an actual incident. If the above wasn’t enough, Bluetooth devices specifically are ineffective once you exceed the very limited range.
As a busy mom, I don’t have time, money, or the patience to waste on solutions that may or may not work. I just need a practical, affordable solution that seamlessly integrates with my lifestyle; is there for me when I need it, and doesn’t require training to operate. In the simplest of terms, I just need it to work.
So, we created Allosentry: a revolutionary smartphone app designed to reunite parents and caregivers with their missing dependents by utilizing contextually relevant crowd search methodologies.
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As an app, it seamlessly integrates into the lives of busy parents because we almost always have our smartphones with us. Further, there are no additional devices to purchase or maintain. No recurring monthly or annual fees. And no extra batteries to replace or charge.
Through the Allosentry app, registered users can send a missing person notification to others within their vicinity, regardless of cell signal or Wi-Fi. It will work indoors and outdoors on virtually all Android devices, whether others have the app or not; and all iOS devices with the app.
People within a radius of up to 100 meters will receive an alert on their Android or iOS device with pre-populated descriptors of the missing person. Once the missing person is located, the parent or caregiver can be contacted via the initial message and be reunited with their loved one. The app is free to download and has a one-time in-app fee of USD $4.99.
I was lucky Elliot was returned to me safely that evening. But the reality is, I was lucky.
Whether you have a rambunctious runner; a talented hide and seeker; an adventurer; or just a very curious child – the reality is it’s all too common. It happens to the best of us – even if we’re well read and “prepared”.
All too often, life happens. We get distracted for but a moment, they wander off – and that’s all it takes. Those little legs sure move fast when you least expect it! Though my greatest wish is that no parent or caregiver ever has to go through what I went through, the statistics are what they are and it does happen. The only difference now is that you can be prepared with Allosentry.