Charity launches "iHobo" to raise awareness of the homeless

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The Independent Online

A British charity has launched a new iPhone app to raise awareness of the problems faced by homeless people.

iHobo, developed by advertising agency Publicis London for Depaul UK, allows users to interact with a virtual youth on their iPhone who has just been made homeless.

The app challenges users to make decisions for three days about that homeless person's welfare in order to keep him off drugs and stop him getting ill.

Users have to provide food, warmth and support when the app sends alerts to the iPhone, helping to steer the youth in the right direction during the first few days of homelessness.

A dashboard then provides information on the young man's welfare, including body temperature, calorie intake and how many alerts have been missed by the user.

Donations to Depaul UK, which helps homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, can also be made directly through the app.

Publicis, which developed the app, says that the name iHobo was chosen to challenge misconceptions and that they hope to bring charity to a new market segment.

"We wanted to reach that elusive generation of young, affluent donors who tend to exist in a world defined by their mobiles," Publicis creatives Tom Ewart and Adam Kean told MediaWeek magazine.

iHobo has attracted positive reviews from App Store reviewers, with one user describing it as "an insightful app that highlights a worthy, important and growing cause".

Last year, US charity LoveBags launched its own iPhone app to enable users to create their own bags of food for homeless people and raise awareness of homelessness.