If you're in a high-risk profession that requires you to meet with lots of clients one on one (say, prostitute or pizza-delivery guy), or perhaps just sure you'll be abducted or murdered at any moment, Face File has just the thing to help you feel a little safer -- or at least a little more certain your killer will be brought to justice.
The Lakewood-based company's new service -- it's serving fewer than ten-thousand clients right now but launches nationally this month -- lets you send pictures from your camera phone -- along with any comments you add, such as "This is the guy stabbing me" -- to their servers when you feel threatened. Then it notifies up to nine of your friends/family members/pimps via e-mail that you've taken a picture of said threatening person, place or thing. Your contacts are then urged to get in touch with you to verify your safety. If it turns out you were, in fact, the victim of a crime, Face File will turn over the info to police.
Suggested uses from the company website include: Snapping pictures of unfamiliar places you may be wandering around in case you disappear; grabbing a pic of a stranger that approaches you; and, my favorite, taking a picture of the person you're going home from the bars or a party with. That last one probably won't stop you from being butchered, but it will definitely create a useful gallery of shame that could dissuade you from further sleazy behavior. (Face File suggests you not stop and take a picture when you are in imminent danger. In other words, when a hockey-masked guy with a machete is running toward you screaming, run first, photograph later.)
Of course, a lot of this depends on your phone. Personally, by the time I got to the right menu option on my crappy phone to take a picture, much less save and send it, my assailant could have me neatly deboned, wrapped in plastic and dumped in the Platte. Luckily, founder Rob Wilcox promises that dedicated apps are coming for the ubiquitous iPhone and other popular smart phones that will speed the process considerably. But all joking aside, this is actually a pretty simple and clever use of already existing, nearly universally adopted technology. "It's tying the mobile platform to the Internet and turning it into a safety tool," explains Wilcox. "The phone is the one thing people don't leave home without."
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Signing up for the basic service is free, although it will subject you to some advertising. And while we may never know how many lives are saved by the tech, the crimes that are deterred by a timely snap are the ones we don't hear about, as Wilcox points out. All it's going to take is one Face File photo being featured in a high-profile prosecution or episode of CSI for Face File to become the hottest company in the state.