“In a matter of seconds, your life could be changed forever. Will your iPhone be there for you when you need it?”
That’s a portion of the official description of a new iPhone app called iHelp+ (or iHelp Plus), which was developed by former Pickens County school board member Shane Neighbors and his business partner.
“My partner told me he read an article that said the fastest segment of smartphone users were people 50 plus, “ Neighbors said. “So we thought we should do something for the iPhone.”
The iPhone app is designed to alert a family member or monitoring company if you do not arrive at a destination due to an unforeseen accident. When triggered, the app provides a GPS location and a phone number for the closest 911 call center. iHelp+ also stores personal medical information, which is shared with first responders in the event of an emergency.
In addition to the 50-plus crowd, the app is also being marketed to college-age students as a safety tool for use walking to and from classes.
Neighbors, who works as a software engineer with Manhattan, Inc., said the idea for the new app was born out of a few brainstorming sessions in October of last year. After hammering out and streamlining their idea, he and his partner applied for a patent and began development of the iSO (iPhone mobile operating system) application.
At the time Neighbors attended iSO development meetings and began working with the founder of the group on iSO coding.
“I have played with iOS applications for years but I’ve never built anything of any significance,” he said. “I asked him if he would be interested in helping, so he’s been doing the coding, most of it. I started shadowing him so I could learn and maintain this.”
Neighbors said he coded the entire medical portion of the app, and built many other elements of the software.
“I really enjoyed working with the iSO stuff,” Neighbors said. “I know it’s sappy, but it’s a beautiful environment to work it. When I first started it I couldn’t stand it because it’s so much different from the Microsoft development, which I’ve done since 1996. When I started working with this it was like pulling my hair out.”
But after working for a solid year on late nights and weekends, Neighbors now wants to continue working with the iSO format. Currently, however, the Pickens resident is translating board games into software that is compatible with the iPad.
The official launch date for iHelp+ was Aug. 7, and in only a few weeks the app has reached the top 300 in the Lifestyle section in the iTunes app store.
“We started on Tuesday so we’ve already broke down into that lower barrier,” Neighbors said. “There was a big media hype Aug. 8 and the advertising company sent us a list of all the places they sent [the press kit] to. It’s a lot of magazines, and ABC, CBS, places like that.”
Neighbors said apps often gain popularity via word of mouth, “but we are hoping the social media is where we’re going to pick it up. That seems to be the best way to get it out there,” he said.
For more information about iHelp+ you can visit www.ihelpplusapps.com/Default.aspx. To purchase the app go to itunes.apple.com/us/app/ihelpplus-personal-alarm-panic/id537514084?mt=8. You can also view the app trailer on YouTube.