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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New phone app keeps parents in loop about kids' phone

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Greg Pennington, top, has created a new phone application to keep parents aware of incoming and outgoing calls and text messages on their kids' cell phone. Shown is his family, from left, Matthew, 13, his wife, Martha, and Chris, 5.
(Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- A McCook man has created a new phone app, as a result from a chance conversation a year and half ago.

Greg Pennington of McCook, a robotic engineer at Valmont, was shooting the breeze one day with a friend at work and asked, "What does a guy have to do to make a half million dollars?" His friend shrugged, Pennington recalled, and said, "you tell me."

So he decided to give it try and a year and a half later, Pennington came up with CelSafe.

Available from Wizard App Makers Inc., a McCook start-up that includes Pennington and others, the application relays incoming and outgoing calls and text messages, in real time, from a phone owned by the user, such as a kid's phone, to a phone or e-mail designated by the user. It can also be used to keep track of scam messages leading to identity theft, on an elderly parent's phone the user owns.

The application can be downloaded onto Android phones; an application for iPhones is under development.

It's different than other similar applications currently available. Other applications can be downloaded for free but users must pay a monthly fee. CelSafe charges a one time fee of $2.99 and "you have it. It's a one-stop shop," Pennington said.

Pennington, and his wife, Martha, have two sons, Matthew, 13 and Chris, 5. Although Chris does not have a cell phone ("He can pretend he has one," said Martha), Matthew does, so the Pennington's want to be pro-active rather than reactive.

"It's a great tool so parents can know what's going on with their kids, like who they know, in case something were to happen," Martha said. Some parents are not tech-savvy and are in the dark about cell phones, she said, using a cell phone used as a glorified babysitter. CelSafe will help parents, she said, so kids can have the freedom of a cell phone yet parents can have peace of mind.

High tech is the new frontier, so coming up with a technology-based innovation was a no-brainer to Pennington, who has written other computer programs. He cited Google Fiber opening up in Kansas City, Missouri, which will offer fiber optic broadband Internet capable of speeds up to 100 faster that what is used now, as how the boundaries of technology keep expanding.

Pennington said he hopes CelSafe is a stepping stone for other technolgy. Other applications under development at Wizard App Makers, Inc., include a phone app for sailing, which will be able to gauge things like wind speed.

CelSafe is available at Google Play.

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