New App Is Helping Create a Safer World

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New App Is Helping Create a Safer World

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 15, 2016 – Peoria, IL.  Local inventor and entrepreneur Josh Swank has invented and designed a unique personal protection app for the iPhone and Apple Watch that debuted on the App Store on June 1, 2016 aimed at increasing safety around the world.

Virtual Halo was conceived of by Swank during a trip to Colombia in February 2015 when he experienced a tense situation that he and his fellow traveling companions thought would end up in a kidnapping or them being killed. Having traveled over the same road they were driving on three days earlier without incident, Swank and his colleagues didn’t expect any problems. They were in a remote area of Colombia on their way back to Barranquilla to catch a flight when, in the middle of nowhere, a heavily guarded checkpoint had sprung up.

Three days earlier, this spot in the road was empty; the only thing that could be seen were the fields on either side of the poorly maintained road boarded by dense forest. On this day however, two buttressed walls made of sand bags were on either side of the road. Multiple military-type men were blocking the road, with machine guns in their hands and their fingers on the triggers, when they ordered the truck to stop.

That was when the guards pulled the two Colombians from the front of the truck. Yelling in Spanish for a while was little respite before they pulled Swank and his colleague out, dragging them to the back of the truck where they were lined up and told to outstretch their hands onto the truck.

“At this point in time, all I could think of was my wife and family. If I’m taken or killed, how will they find out? When will they realize I’m missing and where will they start to look? The variables were overwhelming and I was very concerned for them.”

With all of the technology each of us carries around daily, Swank couldn’t help but think why a simple, subtle, easy way to let people know you’re in trouble isn’t integrated into our mobile devices.

Luckily, the guards just wanted a kickback. Twenty dollars and the group of four were back on the road, but the impression of that experience didn’t leave Swank. Upon getting back to the United States, Swank set about researching options available to protect him, his family and friends in these type of situations. As it turns out, very limited options existed, which gave Swank the idea to create his own.

From February of 2015 through the end of May 2016, the process of writing a patent, defining the features, crafting the code, beta testing the app and finally submitting it to Apple for approval culminated with a successful launch. Virtual Halo went live publicly the beginning of June and has become a useful tool for families, travelers, real estate agents, college students, and just about anyone interested in personal safety.

The app has three key features:

1.)   SOS – Designed as your personal panic button, when pressed in the iPhone app, or on the Apple Watch, an emergency notification is sent by the Virtual Halo cloud to the users emergency contacts and lets them know their friend is in trouble, their nearest street address and a link to the users location on their map.

2.)   Check In – This feature allows users to simply push a button and the Virtual Halo cloud sends a text message to their emergency contacts letting them know they are OK; optionally the user can include a custom message and include their location.

3.)   Going Out – Designed for adventure sports enthusiasts, this mode is set by a user before they head out on a sport – a jog, hike, bike ride, etc. – they let the app know their intended duration and when they’ll be back. If they don’t disable the app by their preset time, the Virtual Halo service sends a text to their emergency contacts letting them know the user went out, the activity they were participating in, that they expected to be back by the specific time and that they haven’t returned; it also provides the users last known location.

Swank feels that safety is a fundamental right, which is why the app is free to download and the SOS feature is included at no cost. If a user wants the expanded features that include the Check In and Going Out capabilities, they are available as a monthly subscription for $1.99 per month, charged to their iTunes account.

For more information on Virtual Halo, visit virtualhalo.com.

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Images for the above press release are available here; for further questions or media inquiries, please contact us at (309) 208-8603 or email pr@virtualhalo.com

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Virtual Halo App Wins StartupPeoria's Pitch Competition

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Virtual Halo App Wins StartupPeoria's Pitch Competition

Peoria Illinois - October 5, 2015 - Virtual Halo, a user safety app which provides notification services for people and their trusted friends and loved ones, has won the KeyStart Pitch Competition from StartupPeoria. The ongoing competition pitted multiple promising startups together with the final four squaring off on September 29. Virtual Halo came out on top, earning a high distinction alongside a $5000 investment.

A grassroots movement focused in Central Illinois, StartupPeoria emphasizes innovation and community within the startup marketplace. The organization champions new companies with ideas that are designed to bring major changes within their respective industries. The company identifies talent across the development field – from designers and programmers all the way to entrepreneurs. From there, they connect them with other professionals to transform their ideas into practical services and viable business models.

An event several months in the making, the KeyStart pitch startup competition celebrates innovation and promise within a startup company's development. Ongoing qualifying rounds brought together countless developers and innovators all hoping to clench the award. Over the past several months, the competition has continued to identify the most promising candidates down to the final decision. The September 29 competition brought together the four finalists within the ongoing competition, showcasing the best and the brightest within the region.

By clenching the victory, Virtual Halo not only took home the $5000 seed funding to help with the app’s ongoing development. They also brought the confirmation and acknowledgment from the community of all the potential their app has to offer customers.

“We’re absolutely thrilled Virtual Halo won the KeyStart Pitch Competition,” according to company Founder Josh Swank. “Our team has put in countless hours making our app stand out. And when you’re facing competition like the other finalists, winning this award is a real honor for all of us.”

Designed around providing personal safety without infringing on user privacy, Virtual Halo offers users a wealth of options to ensure ongoing safety. The app is designed for anyone from adventurers to school children and parents who want a fast and accessible way to alert loved ones when they are in danger.

The app features the primary SOS option which adds simple integration for users to send a notification to their trusted friends and loved ones – alongside coordinates showing their location. Additional modules will also be included that add even more safety benefits both to users. The I'm OK module sends random requests to ensure users are safe with a notification when they fail to respond. The Check-In module also allows users to send out notices alongside optional coordinates to confirm their safety and well-being. Finally, the Sport module allows users to set up a notification of the activity they're pursuing such as jogging or cycling. Users set a specified length of time, and trusted friends are notified if users have not returned within that timeframe.

As Founder Josh Swank continued, the best part about the app is the peace of mind it gives to a user’s loved ones. “In many cases the trusted friends and loved ones are the people who really benefit from the app,” he mentioned. “We give users the freedom to go out and do whatever it is they love without causing unnecessary concerns or anxiety from the people they care about.”

Virtual Halo begins beta testing this month with an anticipated launch in December 2015. To learn more about what the app offers – or to apply to become a beta tester – users can head to the company website at www.virtualhalo.net.

ABOUT

A personal safety app designed to improve peace of mind, Virtual Halo delivers a convenient solution to the ongoing communication between users and their trusted friends and loved ones. Designed for adventurers, hikers, thrill-seekers, and even parents and children, the app provides a variety of modules and features which improve the safety of users while providing a tool to ease the worries and anxiety of parents, friends and other loved ones. With a sharp focus on non-invasive safety with a robust set of user benefits, Virtual Halo brings together the convenience and accessibility of mobile without interfering with user privacy.

Contact:
Virtual Halo, LLC

info@virtualhalo.net
www.virtualhalo.net 
@Virtual_Halo

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