Engineering students at UAlbany are developing a smart watch and smartphone app to assist people with abilities. It’s called “Bee Notified.”

The app, still in the prototype phase, tracks a user’s whereabouts. Their job coach can see if they’re running late to work and send a message to check in.

“The app is aware of the location of the individual, as well as their calendar, when they’re supposed to be at work. So if they don’t arrive on time a notification can go out,” said Jonathan Muckell, the UAlbany professor overseeing student developers.

Anthony Castro is a lead developer.

“The fact that we can build an application that can really touch the lives of people and really be that big difference in someone’s life is just amazing,” said Castro. 

Their work is being done in partnership with non-profit Living Resources. The agency plans to invite clients to use the technology.

“It will allow them to be independent, but as soon as we notice that maybe they haven’t hit their location stop at the right time, we will be able to give them a few minutes and then see if they use the app to ping us so that they’re taking accountability for why they may be late,” said Jennifer Sanderson of the organization’s employment services department.

“Bee Notified” will be presented at the New York State Industries for the Disabled CREATE Symposium in Albany next Wednesday. The event showcases student inventions improving the lives of those with disabilities. This year, students are competing for grant money.

“They were very innovative and very persistent,” said Brian Bateman, marketing manager for New York State Industries for the Disabled. “To think that people so young can come up with such outstanding inventions, it blows my mind."

It is an ambitious undertaking that may help users achieve independence.

“The idea that we can do the same thing, that we can create an application that can help someone achieve that goal or that dream, is something that is very, very meaningful for us,” said Castro.