Lauren Innovations partners with Kent State Tuscarawas to create The Safety App Challenge

Alyssa Ronyak

The Safety App Challenge was a competition between juniors and seniors of Tuscarawas High School and Kent State Tuscarawas campus students. The challenge was designed for students to come up with their own safety-related mobile app. The competition offered students scholarships and prizes for an outstanding mobile app idea.

Matt Mastroine, director of development at NaviGate Prepared, helped organize the details of the competition. This was the first year the company has tried any sort of educational challenge with the community.

“A software challenge seemed like a great way to get to know and educate future developers in our area, help create interest and awareness of what all is involved in building apps, and get some creative ideas for future projects,” Mastroine said.

The Safety App Challenge had 14 participants, all with a multitude of ideas. But when viewing the submissions, the judging panel was looking for specific criteria.

“We were looking for creativity, usability, graphics, and code structure,” Mastroine said.

NaviGate Prepared selected junior Devon McCarty, journalism major at Kent State, and first place winner with C.R.I.S.E.S.

McCarty approached the challenge with one goal; to make communication between a person, their family, and emergency services easier.

C.R.I.S.E.S, Cellular Remote Interface Signaling Emergency Services, is an app that users to fill out a list of emergency contacts, add medical information and initialize the app.

“From that point on, if a person is sick, drunk or just unable to do more than grab their phone, C.R.I.S.E.S. will call emergency services and send a text message to as many people as you want, at the same time,” McCarty said.

C.R.I.S.E.S. can also activate your Talk-Back feature, so if the user is unable to text or call, all they have to do is say “Help” or “Call 911”.

McCarty came up with the concept when his father-in-law had a heart attack last year while driving on I-77, 45 minutes from their home. It was several hours before the McCarty family even knew about the incident. That’s when McCarty realized it was a problem and wanted to make a change, not only for his family, but for people everywhere.

McCarty expressed that this was some of the hardest technical work he has ever done. He watched a lot of YouTube and Lynda tutorials and then submitted the 14th version of his app.

“There were a lot of sleepless nights where putting in the wrong punctuation would crash the app and I had to rebuild it from scratch,” McCarty said.

McCarty gives a lot of credit to his wife, Danni, as she would spend a lot of her time with their 18-month old daughter, Charli, while he worked.

“Winning this competition made it all worthwhile,” McCarty said.

The scholarship winnings meant a lot to McCarty, as a veteran of the Marine Corps. With his Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits set to expire this fall, the competition paid for the cost of the rest of his time at the Kent campus while he pursues his degree.

Lauren Innovations has full control of C.R.I.S.E.S. now and are working on cleaning up all of the coding and making sure all the features are functional. When the app releases, it will go to the Google Play store first, and then to iTunes.

“It is one of my goals to help educate and encourage more people into the reality of what it takes to build software and how much fun it can be,” Mastroine said.

Alyssa Ronyak is the regionals reporter for the Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].