Thousands of people around the globe are now using a free personal-safety mobile app that allows friends to virtually walk you home at night.

The Companion app, created by five students from the University of Michigan, enables users to request a friend or family member to keep them company virtually and track their journey home via GPS on an online map.

Although they can do so, the friend or family member does not need to have installed the Companion app, which is available for both Android and iOS.

The user can send out several requests to different phone contacts in case people are not available to be a companion or not with their phones at the time.

Those contacted then receive an SMS text message with a hyperlink in it that sends them to a web page with an interactive map showing the user walking to their destination. If the user strays off their path, falls, is pushed, starts running, or has their headphones yanked out of their phone, the app detects these changes in movement and asks the user if they’re OK.

If the user is fine, they press a button on the app to confirm within 15 seconds. If they do not press the button, or a real emergency is occurring, the Companion app transforms the user’s phone into a personal alarm system that projects loud noises to scare criminals from the scene, and gives you the option to instantly call the police.

As the app is meant to remain as a free product for users, the creators are monetising the app by working with universities. They hope to eventually connect every single university’s campus police in the country to their app, as well as eventually connecting local police departments and emergency responders.

News article by Mary-Ann Russon, International Business Times