Interview with Phone Halo, Makers of Phone Halo Protect System
Jun 15, 2010 4:09 PM –
Today we’re interviewing with Chris Herbert of Phone Halo, makers of Bluetooth accessory device and smartphone app companion apps of same name. They have a cool concept that allows you to retrieve lost personal items like keys, wallet, purse, etc. via the Bluetooth dongle device and app for Android, iPhone, and Blackberry smartphones. For an in-depth review check out Phone Halo Protect.
In an interesting conversation we had with Chris, we found out the idea and company was birthed at the last minute for a class project when other co-founder, Christian Smith, lost his phone. They took the idea and company to DEMO Spring 2010 and won prestigious DEMOgod award for their product which can be seen in the below video. Let’s get into the interview:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Christian Smith and myself are 2 engineers from UCSB. We formed Phone Halo with serial entrepreneur Jacques Habra last July. Before that, it was a senior project at UCSB.
Why did you create your app?
Everyone is a loser. I’m a loser. We all lose things like our phones, keys, wallets, and other valuables. Whenever we lose or even misplace or forget behind any of these items, it causes a huge disruption in one’s life. Costing us time, money, and grief. We were amazed there wasn’t a complete, non-disruptive solution to loss. So we created it.
What technology did you use in creating your App and why?
First main technology used is Bluetooth. We chose Bluetooth for its interoperability and low power consumption. We spent a lot of time focusing on power consumption and this has resulted in absolute minimal effect on the phone’s battery and the Halo device having a 1 week battery life. Over 3 times longer than any similar devices.
We also wanted to incorporate GPS functionality to enable people to see where they left their items behind. From this, we saw the need to share this information with friends after Christian got separated from us in Vegas and lost his phone. The app is now integrated with Twitter, email, sms, and soon Facebook to share with friends that you’ve lost an item.
About how long did it take to create your App?
H/w – 6 months, 16 hours/day. Android App 2 months.
What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
1) Make sure your luggage is on the plane. Attach the halo device to your bags. You can make sure the device is on the plane through the application, just make sure to turn the ringer on silent on the device.
2) Tracking children – You can be notified when little Timmy starts wandering away while getting sodas at Disneyland
What other interesting uses can come from the App?
We’ve had a lot of different use cases for tracking and finding items. We don’t advertise it anti-theft but it is handy to use when at the fair with a lot of pick pockets.
Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
We’re integrating some cool Internet technologies that will be announced in a few months. Other than that, we always get great suggestions from users and incorporating comments into our applications and devices.
What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
The submission process is amazing!
What are some things you would like to see improved with Android?
The UI design in xml is a step above Blackberry however it still cannot compare to the standard UI elements available for the iPhone. If Android could have the same basic UI elements easily available to developers, the overall quality of Android apps would increase.
What is your opinion of the Android App Market’s distribution method? In comparison Apple’s model (strict control over the iTunes store) or the Windows Mobile model (no store yet).
Android has the best distribution model. Developers can easily fix bugs without delay.
What is your Opinion on the state of the Rating/Feedback system in the App Market?
Do you have plans on releasing Apps for other markets (i.e. iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.)?
We’re on Blackberry and iPhone is coming out soon.
Your app is a paid app, why did you choose this model over the free model, and how to you project its success?
Well our app is actually free but the hardware costs money. This is a new business model and I think it will be successful.
Must-have Android Apps?
Evernote, Google Sky Map
What advice would you give to another aspiring mobile application developer?
Listen to your customers and ship often.
Can you tell us what future Android Apps you have brewing?
There’ll be an entirely new project emerging in December
Thanks guys for an awesome idea and letting us review your app and product. We look for to more that you have in store and the “December project”. For more, check out our device and Android app review of Phone Halo Protect.