Thu, Mar 17, 2011 - Page 2 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: New phone app could save lives if disaster strikes

Staff Writer, with CNA

A person holds up smartphones yesterday demonstrating a new app called "Mobile Savior" that records the user's coordinates and transmit them to default emergency contacts to inform them of the user's location in the event of an accident or natural disaster. Users can choose from images of Jesus Christ, Guanyin and other religious figures to provide spiritual comfort during an emergency.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

If you should get trapped under a collapsed building after an earthquake, a cellphone could save your life, not with a dialed call, but with a new application launched by a university teacher in Taiwan.

The application, called Mobile Savior, sends out a cellphone’s latitude and longitude coordinates to default emergency contacts to inform them of the user’s location after a disaster strikes.

It was developed by Liang Chih-hsiung (梁志雄), a multimedia and game science associate professor at Lunghwa University of Science and Technology in New Taipei City (新北市).

The earthquake that struck Japan on Friday prompted him to develop the application, Liang said.

The application features some other nifty features as well, including turning the screen of a smartphone into a flashlight, giving users a source of light if they are pitched into darkness, he said.

It even has built-in images of Jesus Christ, the Buddha and other religious figures to provide spiritual comfort during an emergency.

Priced at US$2.99 per download, Liang said all proceeds would go to disaster relief organizations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Liang said he hoped his application could be used by cloud computing servers when authorities develop their disaster rescue and prevention systems.

However, the application does have one major weakness. It can only be used when the smartphone has a working Internet connection.

If a disaster knocks out cellphone services, as it did in many areas of Japan this past week, people would have to put their phone away and resort to the old-fashioned method of crying for help.

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