An app created in the UK could soon be saving the lives of injured motorcyclists and horse riders all over the world.
REALRIDER uses smartphone tech such as accelerometers and GPS to detect when a rider has been involved in a crash. It then sets off an alarm which sends the incident location and medical details such as the rider’s blood type to the nearest ambulance control room.
The app – one of our 101 Tech Start-up Disrupters – also offers riders the ability to store and share routes and points of interest with fellow bikers, together with photos and comments, alongside other features.
The original idea came out of a road safety project which Realsafe Technologies co-founders Zoe Farrington and Andrew Richardson were involved in back in 2003.
“The ‘handle it or lose it’ campaign was aimed at people who had come back to riding bikes after years away and were crashing quite a bit,” chief commercial officer Richardson told BusinessCloud. “They simply couldn’t handle Ferrari-like speeds so we trained them with the help of the police.
“Soon after that we were making a film with the North East Air Ambulance and they told us their main problem was finding the rider after landing the helicopter near to the bike: they may have been thrown up into in a tree or down an embankment.
“They then had to scramble the police helicopter to use their thermal imaging tech. It can crucial to get the rider to hospital within an hour to increase their chances of survival, and that is obviously a big delay.”
The idea for a crash detection system remained in the background for years. The advent of smartphones then allowed the building of a prototype in 2010.
“The NEAA were keen and put us in touch with the NEAA NHS Foundation Trust,” added Richardson. “The whole thing was built in consultation with their paramedics, which sets us apart from other similar tech out there.”
Launched as a paying service earlier this year, Gateshead-based REALRIDER now has more than 31,000 account holders and has formed partnerships with the likes of Close Brothers Motor Finance to boost subscriptions.
However the bigger picture is to license the tech out and into other platforms. Already integrated into the Canadian 911 emergency service in the same way that it is tied into the UK’s 999 system, the firm could soon protect millions of people across North America.
“Our tech can be plugged into other apps. We’re in high-level talks with an automotive organisation in Canada, which has millions of members, about utilising our tech as a public safety tool,” explained Richardson.
“We hope this strategic partnership could see us roll out across the whole of North America. The aim is to protect millions of people
“Our tech has been developed in such a way that it can also help identify when someone has fallen off a horse, for example.”
Richardson was working in marketing when he and CEO Farrington – who we spoke with earlier this year – came up with the original idea.
He says the long-term project has turned them both into bikers.
“I’d never ridden a bike before – I’d only been on the back of my mates’ off-road bikes when I was growing up,” he said.
“But in our minds we were always bikers – we just finally got around to doing it when we were developing the app! We both passed our tests three years ago. I’ve now done tens of thousands of miles testing the app’s route accuracy.
“Both my sons are now bikers too: they ride better than many people in their 40s and 50s because they’ve learned the principles of riding properly.
“It’s good to know they’re safe – our app gives peace of mind for families and loved ones.”