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A crash-detecting app that travels with you

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Emergency medical personnel refer to it as the “golden hour” – that critical time following a traumatic injury during which medical attention is likely to save a life.

With no less than 47 fatalities on South Africa’s roads every day, according to LeadSA/Arrive Alive, that golden hour takes on a lot more significance.

The problem gets stickier if an accident occurs on a quiet road with little likelihood of anyone witnessing the accident or rendering aid.

And while a smartphone might be to hand, accident victims might not be in a condition to summon help themselves.

This was the problem that Dynamus Technologies CEO Jaco Gerrits wanted to address with his smartphone app CrashDetech. This app does not rely on a person to activate an emergency. Activated by the smartphone app on impact, medical help for motorists in distress is immediately summoned.

Gerrits established Dynamus Technologies in 2002, winning the Top Information & Communication Technology Entrepreneur in Africa award in 2007.

The company has developed numerous technology solutions, among them the Thembela skills and recruitment project linked to mining companies and local government.

Selected to compete in the finals of The Venture competition, the Dynamus Technologies CEO is off on another award-seeking journey. This time to New York in July to pit his CrashDetech solution against social entrepreneurs from 26 other countries.

One of CrashDetech’s differentiators is that it is portable, attached to the individual’s smartphone and travels with them whether as driver, passenger or public transport user.

The app, which runs on the IOS and Android platforms, requires a one-time log in with the auto-drive detection sensor automatically opening the app.

The app took 18 months to develop and knows the difference between a mild impact and a serious crash.

“The sensors on the phone are able to pick up the force of acceleration (g-force), a serious car crash sometimes generating in excess of 30 g’s. We spent a lot of time engineering a solution to eliminate ‘false positives’; the CrashDetech proprietary algorithm monitoring the phone’s sensors eliminate them,” explains Gerrits.

So while you may get a call to find out if you require assistance after a minor incident, the likelihood of an entire fleet of emergency services arriving on the scene of such an event is low.

There is insignificant battery drainage when the app is running. “The algorithm is designed so that there is no significant drainage of the battery for standard driving (two to three hours/day). We had to address that to ensure that users did not uninstall the app,” explains Gerrits. If you happen to be driving for 10 hours on the trot, it is likely to have some impact on the phone’s battery.

CrashDetech’s free version provides users with a monthly 30-trip limit that includes automatic crash detection and sending of an emergency alert sms to that user’s personal emergency contacts.

Subscription options range from R49 to R109 per month. All include the immediate dispatch of emergency medical services to the crash location and provision of a windscreen medical ID disc with medical information, crucial in the event of smartphone damage.

An automated logbook feature is also included. The smart drive-detection technology allows users to monitor their trips, seamlessly logging which are business, and which are private.

The road ahead

CrashDetech currently has 500 local users, but Gerrits believes that the initial marketing drive will increase that number to around 20 000 users, 10% to 15% of whom are forecast to become paid subscribers.

The company is close to concluding a deal with a number of large local entities in the insurance industry to embed the technology into existing apps.

If successful, that could mean gaining upwards of 100 000 users in one swoop, says Gerrits.

Integrating CrashDetech technology into third-party apps is a format also being used for international discussions.

“CrashDetech has generated interest from many markets and we are in early discussions to expand the app to territories like Zambia, Guatemala, the UK and Australia,” Gerrits tells finweek.

This article originally appeared in the 16 June 2016 edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here

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