TORONTO – We’ve all done it – made up an excuse to get out of a date, or pretended to be on the phone to avoid an awkward run-in at the grocery store.
But these tactics, while at times necessary, can be obvious.
Enter “This is Your Out” – a Waterloo, Ont., startup that aims to save people from embarrassing and awkward social situations with the press of a button.
The device, dubbed Tiyo, allows users to press a “panic button” on their key ring to trigger a phone call to their cellphone via Bluetooth.
The user is able to set the caller ID to whatever they want – to make the phone call more convincing – and even plays a repeat-after-me script so you don’t have to make up a lie on the spot.
“There are a lot of people who go into social situations with a plan – they say I’m going on a date call me every 20 minutes,” Tiyo creator Ivan Lukianchuk told Global News.
“You don’t want to sneak out the bathroom window; with this you have a valid excuse.”
The Waterloo entrepreneur came up with the idea for “This is Your Out” after hearing his wife discuss how her colleagues had devised escape plans when they were trapped by especially chatty sales reps.
Lukianchuk, a software developer, consulted with a number of Waterloo-area startups on the idea and realized it had a number of uses – from ditching boring business meetings, to avoiding awkward run-ins with old acquaintances.
“There are a lot of people who have personality types that are just less aggressive,” he said. “There are some people that would never need the device – but I think its great who are a little more awkward and find themselves in these situations.”
Lukianchuk launched an Indiegogo campaign for the device this week and has received over $2,000 in funding. His fundraising goal, however, is $100,000 to pay for the cost of building the device.
Though Lukianchuk said he is developing the app himself, he has teamed up with a Toronto-area engineering firm to help build the Tiyo.
Those who pledge $35 in funding on Indiegogo will receive the device and 25 free calls.
Tiyo, which connects with the users phone via Bluetooth, uses an older version of the technology so a smartphone isn’t needed. Any device that has Bluetooth technology will work with the Tiyo.
Who does Lukianchuk think will use the device the most? Women, he assumes, “Because they get hit on more.” But adds that almost anyone could come up with a reason to use it.
© 2014 Shaw Media