By Kevin O’Rourke
Have you ever been shopping online and wondered if the product you are about to buy has any active safety recalls? Probably not, but by using a free software application designed by Germantown resident Zech Kottilil you can know immediately.
Kottilil was one of four winners of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s first ever Safety Apps Challenge. Earlier this year, CPSC challenged developers to create apps to help consumers track recall announcements and safety incidents involving consumer products. Developers from around the United States stepped up to the challenge and submitted proposals, using CPSC’s SaferProducts.gov and recalls APIs, or application program interface, to come up with innovative ways to access CPSC recalls and incident data.
Kotttilil’s app, called RecallPro works with Google’s Chrome Internet browser as an extension that allows a consumer who is shopping online to highlight a product for sale on the Web, right-click on the product, choose “RecallPro This,” and have recall information displayed for that product. This app is available on Google Chrome free of charge.
Kottilil said the app was inspired by another Google Chome extension. “I love the Google provided Chrome extension called Google this,” said Kottilil. “I wanted to do something similar for safety recalls.”
“While browsing on any online merchant's site, the software checks for recalls on the product that you are looking for,” said Kottilil. “Just high-light the product name and right click and select ‘RecallPro This.’ It checks the United States Consumer Products Service Commission's data for recalls and informs the consumer on safety recalls. This product is not targeted towards anyone in particular. However, based on my talks with several people, I observed that new moms are constantly checking for safety issues on products that they buy for their infants.”
Kottilil grew up in India and moved to Germantown in 2005 is what is known as a full-stack developer, which he said is a programmer who is not stuck with any particular language for software programming. “I can program software in multiple programming languages. So, basically I am a language-agnostic programmer.”
He said he is constantly checking industry Websites for challenges or “hackathons” and he specifically designed RecallPro for the CPSC’s challenge.
“These app developers inspire us with their creativity,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye. “I congratulate them on using innovation and technology to advance the cause of product safety. Consumers are the real winners in this apps challenge because they have new mobile tools to help them to stay informed about recalls and product safety incidents.”
Kottilil and the three other developers each won $1,000 for creating apps that will help empower consumers with vital safety information.
RecallPro is free and can be installed in Google Chome browsers here.
Caption: Top: The winner of the US CPSC first-ever Safety Apps Challenge, Germantown resident Zech Kottilil, receiving his award from US CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye.
Next: Zech Kottilil explains the functionality and features of his RecallPro app at a press conference announcing the winners of the US CPSC first-ever Safety Apps Challenge.
Photo Credit: US Consumer Product Safety Commission.