Keeping your kids safe online just got a little easier with the help of St. Clements resident Rob Case’s creation, REFbox.Case, along with Tristan Bolton, launched REFbox this spring. It’s a small box you plug into your Internet router to filter out adult content from all the devices connected to your network. It works for all devices, like phones, computers and tablets.
“This is a simple box that’s got a system inside it and it plugs into the back of the wireless router in your home, and that’s it,” Case said. “The box itself then begins to monitor and protect the systems so if anybody tries to access any known phishing sites, sites that have extreme violence on them, like ISIS, it’s blocked. So then they just get a screen that says you can’t go any further and they have to move on to somewhere else.”
The technology was born out of the desire to protect their kids. Case says his kids all have devices which connect to the Internet. This makes it possible for him to know they aren’t getting into anything they shouldn’t be – accidentally or otherwise.
“There are other solutions out there, but most of them are software based, so in order to actually protect your kids’ phone you have to install the software onto their phone or their computer,” Case explained. “And most kids can work around that stuff. The only way that anyone can work around it is they could unplug it, in which case the person who owns it suddenly gets an email letting them know the box has been unplugged and then they can always just call home and ask why the box was unplugged.”
They had been trying to come up with a solution to keep their kids safe without installing software on all the devices since around 2005. He said they brainstormed but were never really serious about it. That is, until Bolton mentioned a tool he was working on.
“It dawned on me that what he was explaining to me could actually work for this as well,” Case said. “So I asked him why couldn’t we use that to instead block content on people’s networks, so kids can’t access adult content? And he was like ‘I don’t know why it couldn’t.’ Within about two months we had a working prototype.”
It took about eight months from the brainchild to holding the prototype. They launched it at the end of April and are starting to promote it now. He says they’re ahead of the game because they don’t see anyone else with this type of system working.
“The hope is we’re creating that solution across the board,” Case said. “What we’re really doing, as far as pricing goes, there’s a very little profit margin on this service. It’s more about creating a service that we can get the equipment sent out. I think it’s $5 a month, what it’s going to be on the box, just to keep it updated in the system. We’ve got a lot of features that we’re already developing for it that people have been requesting.”
Before launching REFbox, Case left Google in October because he was tired of driving to Toronto. He’s now working as a director for Direct Access Digital in Burlington, but still lives in St. Clements. He spent his teen years into his early 20s in Elmira.
Case is the digital marketing guy behind the business, while Bolton is the techy whiz, as president of an IT company and a programmer. He says REFbox is neat because it’s a system they can continue to value add by putting in different features.
It can be purchased on their website, www.refbox.ca, and they’ll be setting up a booth at the St. Jacobs Farmers Market for a few Saturdays. He says demand has exceeded their expectations and they’re working to keep up with it.
“It’s been really good, lots of attention from a lot of companies and people,” Case said. “A lot of the feedback we’re getting from the public is this is something they need.”