An Israeli father’s invention to protect his autistic son
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Doron Somer with his son, Itamar. Photo Credit: AngelSense

AngelSense’s GPS device is changing the lives of special needs children and their families

Doron Somer was a successful computer scientist, working in analytics and sensor processing, when he learned that his autistic son Itamar had been mistreated by a nanny of three years. Somer decided that if he could not change people he would at least try to make the world safer through technology. In 2013, Somer approached his friend Nery Ben-Azar, a successful hi-tech executive and social entrepreneur, with an idea. In January 2014, the team launched AngelSense, a reliable GPS solution to monitor children with special needs.

Several products in the personal GPS market exist that target a broad audience, and some address the special needs community. But Somer found it “surprising” when he could not find a reliable device specifically designed for children with special needs.

“Even some of the most basic issues were not addressed,” said Somer. “You can’t just put a GPS device on a kid’s pants. He will throw it away.”

AngelSense includes a wearable GPS device that attaches to a garment, pocket, or belt in such a way that it is hard to take off. Through a web and mobile app, the parent receives real-time text and email notifications as their children changes location. The device knows the child’s schedule, so it can tell the parents whether their son or daughter is in the right place at the right time.

Photo Credit: AngelSense

Photo Credit: AngelSense

Beyond the GPS tracking technology, AngelSense has a voice monitoring feature so parents can “listen in.” Google street-view pictures throughout the day also capture the child’s route. Essentially, the device becomes a parent’s second set of eyes and ears.

The statistics show that an extra set of eyes and ears can be life-changing for both parents and their children. One out of every 5 children with special needs experience physical abuse, and according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 50% of special needs children go missing at least once by the age of 17.

Somer said, “We experienced everything from mild neglect to physical abuse.” Without the right device, he said, “You really keep worrying about where your child might go, and your child can’t exactly share what’s going on with him.”

The mothers involved

Moreover, a call center on the AngelSense website has a support team available 14 hours per day, seven days a week. All of the call center representatives have children with special needs, and all of them are mothers — a surprising decision for the father who created AngelSense.

Somer said, “Moms really leave everything to take care of their child. Their lives turn upside down. In our call center, you will not see the average call center representative. You will see a lawyer, designer, writer — unbelievably talented moms who are all passionate about creating a safer world. They are also experts on the product.”

If you spend just a few minutes on the website, a message from a member of the support team will pop up.

Ben-Azar shared that the main challenge is “getting known and letting people know the solution exists.”

Since its U.S. launch in 2014, AngelSense has gathered 1,000 subscribers, who pay $40 per month. Though the company has been challenged by outreach, Ben-Azar calls AngelSense above all a “social venture.”

He said, “The aim is really to keep those children safe and improve their well-being, making life easier for the kids and the families.”

Featured Image Credit: AngelSense

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Jenna Shapiro

About Jenna Shapiro


Jenna is a summer Geektime reporter and editor, and a student at Stanford University. She has a penchant for cool ideas and slightly crazy people, perhaps evident in her move from the Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv. As an English major who finds herself in tech hubs, she aims to change the world through tech and Steinbeck.

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