A new app has been designed to help pregnant women get a seat on public transport by pinging a message to other commuters’ phones.
Babee on Board works by using two different apps: one for pregnant mums costing £3.99, and a free one for everyone else. Once a pregnant commuter boards a train or bus, she can send an alert via Bluetooth which notifies anyone in the carriage who happens to also have the app, which is then meant to prompt them to offer their seat.
Hew Leith, chief executive of creative agency 10X which created the app, told BBC News that the app was created in the hopes of eliminating the issue of commuters becoming increasingly unaware of everything happening around them, which often means that pregnant women and others less able to stand can’t get a seat.
‘We should be using our eyes, but if you look around you, everyone whips out their phone as soon as they sit down,’ he said.
‘When we did user testing quite a few women said that early on in pregnancy, when they are not showing, is when they feel most ill and need a seat the most. But visibly you can’t see the bump and you can’t always see the badge because the trains get so busy.’
During the testing of the app, the developers found that many women said they needed a seat the most when they were in the early stages of pregnancy, when they felt the most ill but weren’t showing enough to get the attention of commuters. Hew also said that Baby on Board badges aren’t always immediately visible during busy times.
So, how come expectant mothers have to pay so much for the app, yet commuters get the free version?
‘We would rather give it away for free but we need to ensure there’s a barrier so people don’t download it for free and troll those around them,’ said Hew.
All profits from the app will be given to a children’s charity.
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The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) have welcomed the app, and senior policy adviser Elizabeth Duff has said that any way to aid pregnant women ‘to have a more comfortable journey can only be a good thing’.
The app launches in the UK today, and is currently only available for iOS users.
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