Posts tagged with "Mobile app"

Mother creates ‘Just Us’ mobile app to help protect Black drivers

April 2, 2021

In a display of motherly love and concern for her own son’s safety—and everyone’s else’s sons and daughters—one mom has created a mobile app that will protect Black drivers in the event they are pulled over by police (and all people of color, including Asians, who currently are under attack).

Charmine Davis, a clinical psychotherapist based in Los Angeles, became increasingly concerned as her son neared driving age, she recently told Good Morning America—noting that Black drivers are more likely to be pulled over by police than White drivers.

Several academic studies prove the point: A study published in Nature Human Behaviour found that Black drivers in the United States are 20% more likely to be stopped than White drivers; and are 1.5 to 2 times as likely to be searched afterward.

Another study conducted by Harvard University researchers found that Blacks are more than three times as likely to be killed during a police encounter.

“A driver’s license to me meant that he was going to be out in the world and I couldn’t protect him,” Davis told “Good Morning America.” “I just kind of pondered, ‘What can I do? How can I stay connected without stagnating this young man who was ready to venture off?'”

She created her own answers: The Just Us app launched in August and currently has about 3,000 users. The name comes from a play on the word “justice.” There are three main features to the app:

  • Check In” will send a message to designated contacts that the person is safe and reveal their current location;
  • Head’s Up” will notify designated contacts that the person is being pulled over by law enforcement, send the driver’s location, and begin livestreaming; and
  • Help” will begin livestreaming and notify anyone within a three-mile radius of the app that the person needs assistance.

All features have the ability to be hands-free with voice activation, something that Davis was adamant about due to the harsh reality that many Black drivers face.

“We know that a lot of incidents happen when folks reach for things,” Davis said. “And so the voice activation was so important to me because you’re not reaching for anything. There’s no misconceptions there.”

Despite her busy schedule, Davis went above and beyond the call of duty, even funding the project herself. “She was so committed to it that she used her own money,” Candace Walker, a social impact technologist who worked with Davis on the app, told GMA. “And as you can imagine, this technology isn’t cheap to develop. So it was a big deal.”

“You can’t put a price on love,” Davis said of her monetary support.

Accountability and connection are other important aspects for Davis, who said the app keeps everyone accountable and that the more people who download the app, the safer we all will be.

“Just from a cultural aspect, we have always—as African Americans and as people of color— put our safety in someone else’s hands,” she said. “And this is just a way to put it back in ours in a peaceful way. And we are connecting with law enforcement and saying, ‘This protects not just me, but you too.'”

The app’s functionality extends beyond driving, and can be used in any situation where someone feels they’re in danger.

“We did a community meeting once, and one young lady said that she had used it on her college campus at night when she felt afraid,” Davis said. “She was just so happy to have it.”

The location data itself can be used as a way to bring up safety issues to policymakers and be an impetus for change. Walker noted that the data can be gathered to pinpoint specific areas -—down to the street corners—that have high incident reports.

Davis used her experience working with families who have experienced domestic violence and sex trafficking to highlight how the app can be used in those situations as well.

“Even if their phone was taken, we would be able to see if they need help, and they would be able to get help because it has their location on it,” she said. “And it’s not like the phone will be talking; so if someone is harming them, they would know that the police are on their way.”

Research contact: @GMA

Hydrow ‘streams’ rowing lessons from the river

May 18, 2020

A lifelong rower and former coach of the U.S. National Team, Hydrow CEO and Founder Bruce Smith now wants to share the physically and mentally transformative experience that has drawn him to the water—and keeps him there on a nearly daily basis.

According to The Boston Globe, Smith’s Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup sent out its first customer shipment one year ago—a specially designed rowing machine offering live-streamed on-screen experiences that make the indoor athlete feel as if he or she is navigating on the Charles River, along with the instructor.

And the pandemic actually has been a wellspring for Hydro’s business. Sales of its machines in April were four times those of January, Smith says.

Indeed, the Globe reports, Hydrow isn’t the only Boston-area company finding ways to grow in 2020 by offering a technological escape from our penned-up pandemic cabin fever.

Last May, Hydrow started shipping its $2,200 rowing machine to about a thousand customers who had put in pre-orders. It also announced around that time that it had raised $27 million in venture capital funding.

The following month, Best Buy started selling the device. Like a traditional rowing machine, it offers resistance to simulate the effort of pulling oars through the water as your seat slides back and forth. But unlike old-school “ergs,” or ergometers, Hydrow connects to the Internet and has a large flat-screen display.

After customers purchase the machine, they can use a basic mode for free, or $40 per month for access to a library of recorded workouts, as well as several live broadcasts each week.

The library includes trips to London, Scotland, San Francisco Bay; and Austin, Texas. During the winter, the company broadcasts live rowing sessions from Miami; in the summer, it relocates to Boston.

Finally, for those who do not want to purchase a new machine, Hydrow also makes a mobile app that you can use with a smartphone or tablet, to bring its prerecorded clinics to a rowing machine you already own.

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Family dormitories are on the rise

March 20, 2019

A co-living company that has been offering dormitory-like accommodations to single 20-somethings now has a new customer base in mind: families.

New York City-based Common, which rents out fully furnished private bedrooms in shared, serviced apartments—complete with a  shared and furnished living area, kitchen, and bathroom(s), and free on-site laundry; as well as a once-a-week professional cleaning team—is teaming with global real-estate developer Tishman Speyer to launch this new product on March 19, The Wall Street Journal reports.

It’s a grown-up concept designed to meet the needs of young and expanding family units. Under the new brand Kin, buildings will feature playrooms, family-size units, and on-demand childcare through an internal mobile app that also helps connect families looking to share nannies and babysitters.

Common and Tishman Speyer are testing out those offerings at an existing luxury project, Jackson Park in Long Island City, with plans to announce new developments in other locales in the coming months, the Journal reports.

The partners see this as an opportunity to help address a shortage of family-size apartments in many major U.S. cities, where developers have overwhelmingly built studios and one-bedrooms targeted to single 20-somethings.

“People are choosing to raise families in big cities more than ever,” said Rob Speyer, president and chief executive at Tishman Speyer. “It’s very difficult to find housing that’s tailored to that.”

Common pioneered the co-living concept, but since then it has become a crowded space with a handful of well-funded competitors. All are racing to see who can most quickly overcome hurdles—such as finding developers and banks willing to gamble on the unconventional layouts, and finding a way to shrink floor plans without alienating customers.

Brad Hargreaves, founder and chief executive at Common, said the idea for the product grew out of his own experience trying to find child care in the city when his son was born in 2015.

“When [my first son] was about to be born we started looking for child-care options, and we really struggled to find anything that was affordable and high-quality,” he said.

The Kin venture also provides a hedge for Common when its clientele are aging out of their 20s and potentially out of Common’s core product.

Some analysts have warned that co-living buildings serve a niche demographic and people are much less likely to live there when they become couples or have children.

“There is a large question from a venture-capital side about what these companies are going to look like in 10 years. When the largest cohort that is using co-living, what happens when these people grow up?” Jeffrey Berman, a general partner at Camber Creek, a real-estate-focused venture-capital firm, told the Journal in an interview.

Unlike Common’s co-living product, Kin buildings won’t require families to share kitchens and bathrooms. But Mr. Hargreaves said units will be compact to help make them more affordable, with larger common spaces to compensate.

Developers traditionally build much fewer two- or three-bedroom apartments because they are more expensive and tend to lease more slowly. In fact, the share of apartments with two or more bedrooms has declined to just over 40% since 2014, from about 55% from 2000 to 2013. Nearly 60% of new units constructed in the 54 largest metros since 2014 have been studio or one-bedroom apartments, according to CoStar, up from about 45% from 2000 to 2013.

Hargreaves told the news outlet that he is confident that families aren’t leaving the city by choice, but because of limited child-care and housing options. “One of the biggest things [families] fear is being forced out of the city into the suburbs,” he said.

Research contact: @hicommon