By JO TIMBUONGbytz@thestar.com.my
PETALING JAYA: It is not uncommon for a husband to worry about the safety of his wife whenever she goes off on her own. It is the same with a mother when she sends her child off to school.
And crimes like the kidnapping of 12-year-old schoolboy Nayati Shamelin Moodiar, which fortunately ended without tragedy days ago, just increases such anxieties.
Most of us just wring our hands as we shove the bad thoughts into the deepest part of our brain, and hope for the best. Most times, it turns out to be nothing and we berate ourselves mentally for being a worry wart.
But what if something bad really happens? Wouldn't we want to know as soon as possible, so that we can immediately do something about it?
James Khoo, 40, can attest to that. One of his worst fears happened when his 20-something sister, who was studying in Melbourne, Australia, went missing in 2007.
For three days, he and the family did not know what had happened to her. All they knew was that she didn't return to her apartment and her friends had not seen her in that time. "We were at our wits end; our attempts to contact her were futile," he said.
It was later that they found out she had been in an accident, and had been unconscious in a hospital for the three days. Passers-by had helped get her the medical attention she needed, but they did not know who to inform about her whereabouts.
"When she regained consciousness, she called home. And that's when our suffering ended," Khoo said.
The incident planted a thought in his head - what if there was some kind of technology to contact family or friends should something bad happen to someone?
It was five years later that the technology became available for Khoo to come up with such a service. He created the secQ.me my Mobile Tracker (pronounced Secure Me) - an application that resides on a smartphone.
The app will send an SMS or e-mail message to a designated person or persons, such as a family member or friend, in the event of an emergency.
"If you are going on a road journey, for example, and expect to reach your destination in an hour, you key that information into the app.
"If you do not reach your destination in the allotted time or you fail to deactivate the app, it will send out a message that something may have happened to you," said the chief executive officer of secQ.me Sdn Bhd. "This is also useful for women travelling alone."
His secQ.me app also has an emergency "button." Khoo said that if someone finds himself or herself in a desperate situation - such as being abducted or chased - they just have to shake their smartphone vigorously.
The app will immediately sound an audio alarm on the phone and activate the device's built-in camera, which will help the victim record the threat. The video is sent to the company's servers via wireless broadband, while it also sends out a text message to the designated person. A link to the video is included in the message. "So if someone is attacking you, shake your smartphone in the perp's face," Khoo said. "This footage can be used as evidence for the authorities."
And, the app has a location tracking function.
A former R&D executive for a multinational, Khoo had quit his job last year to fully focus on secQ.me.
"It was a hard decision. My wife was expecting our second child and she knew that we would have to rely on our savings and her salary till I made secQ.me a success. But she was supportive because she saw the potential of the app," he said.
SecQ.me is now available in more than 50 countries on Android and iOS smartphones. The app has also attracted the interest of several venture capitalists here and in Singapore, according to him.
Khoo plans to add more features to the app, such as smart monitoring which would enable parents to keep an eye on their children's whereabouts.
With secQ.me activated on the children's phones, parents would be able to know immediately if their kids leave designated safe zones - like school grounds, tuition centres and the home.
secQ.me is available on the App Store and Google Play.