Technology News

(NYT) A Panic Button for the Phone

Samantha Nelson was only 32 when she died after a heart attack in 2010. Ms. Nelson, who had been on the phone with her mother and sister just a couple of hours before she died, had pledged to call back after she took a bath, but had not been heard from. Then the call came. Ms. Nelson was frantic; she had just awaked in a tub filled with scalding water with little clue as to how she got there.

Christoph Hitz

Ms. Nelson’s mother and sister urged her to call 911, but she wanted to call her husband first. He headed straight home, but when he arrived, she was already dead. Her next-door neighbor, an emergency medical technician, was home at the time.


Ms. Nelson’s brother, Michael, a neuroscientist in Brooklyn, has taken it upon himself to make an app to ensure that what happened to his sister happens to fewer people. On a phone screen, his app, iUDAME, is little more than a large gray button. When the button is pressed, the app can alert 911 as well as family members to the distressed user’s location. (Ayúdame is Spanish for “help me.”)