On mobile, there is a lot of content out there that might be inappropriate for young kids (especially in gaming), and parents might want to be cautious when handing smartphones to their children. Mimamorl is an Android app and website that was recently published by Unirings, which tries to address this problem. By turning on the Mimamorl app on a given Android smartphone, kids can only access contents chosen by their parents. And if you want to exit the app, a password is required.
The app has attracted a lot of attention, especially among working parents who can’t watch over their child, and also by parents whose kids commute to a jyuku (a sort of an after school prep-school that many Japanese kids go to) where it is not uncommon for kids to come home after 10pm. Mimamorl delivers geolocation data to a map once every hour which parents are able to view via web browser. The startup plans to introduce a premium account where the location is acquired every ten minutes (for up to two kids) for the price of 315 yen, or about $3.40.
While developing the app, Masato Hoshi, the CEO of Unirings explains that the team conducted many user interviews.
Parents are not looking to monitor their children, but rather they wishes to have [adequate information] in times of emergencies. In fact, in the first version of the app, a child’s location was indicated by his photo, but many parents gave us feedback that it made them feel uncomfortable. They felt as if they were constantly monitoring their child’s activities.
I assume that there is a great demand for solutions like Mimamorl, even for families with kids who just entered elementary school. Hoshi explains that the reason why they’re not seeing direct competitors yet is because of technological difficulties in this space. The app is developed using Scala and the Play framework. They also used Open Street Map to allow room for scalability. Outside Japan for example, there are maps indicating residential locations of sex offenders, but here, maybe they might find need to create a map of high radiation areas for general safety.
Hoshi also emphasized the power saving capabilities of the app:
When geolocation is enabled on a smartphone, the battery only lasts for a maximum of three hours. On Mimamorl, we designed the app so that if you leave home with a fully charged phone, the battery will last until late at night even with geolocation enabled. In addition, our technology enables us to acquire a more precise geolocation regardless of the device being used.
In the future, Mimamorl plans to add an alarm feature that when tapped by a child, automatically sends notification emails to their parents. Also, by registering a certain area up-front, the app will notify parents when children enter the vicinity. Mimamorl’s main target are kids in third grade up to middle school.