A father deployed with the British Royal Navy is using a special smartphone app to read bedtime stories to his 5-year-old son, who is more than 400 miles away.
Curtis Aikin, 24, uses the free app, Little Trooper Treasures, to read to his son, Zach, while he's deployed.
The app allows the father of two to record his face and audio as he reads a story. The app then delivers the message to his son, who can then push the screen to turn the electronic pages to continue the story.
Each time, it's like Zach's dad is in the room with him.
“Zach sees his dad's face and it just makes things so much easier,” mom Alice Jennings, 29, told SWNS. “It's so much easier to do that than have to sit and explain and see him getting upset when I have to say, 'Daddy can't talk to you today.'
"There are only so many times you can make the excuse of where dad is and why he can't get on the phone that night. He's used to his dad reading him bedtime stories when he's at home, and when mom does it, it's never the same."
For Aikin, who is sometimes deployed for a week or even months at a time, it allows him to stay close to his young son.
“It's great to keep that connection rather than go for all that time without seeing me or even hearing my voice if it's a time we have to go without phone calls," he told SWNS. "It keeps us closer together and we feel less distant. When I'm away he can connect with me anytime and get a bit of comfort with my voice in his head."
Little Trooper Treasures is supported by HarperCollins and ABF The Soldiers' Charity. It is currently available to military families.