Written on Saturday, November 29, 2008
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MobiWatch spent two years engineering the Bluetooth connections and arranging partnerships with Sprint Nextel Corp. for the connectivity, and Cambridge-based emergency response service provider ProEMS Solutions Inc. to support the device. The company is now preparing to bring the product to market, and the device, which has been beta-tested with Sprint, is expected to launch in early 2009. The monthly service fee is expected to be priced between $6 and $10 per month.I liked the idea, because the product comes to fill a need. However, if I put myself in the position of the person in need, I don't think it would be much different getting the phone out of my pocket and pressing on the speed dial button and using this device.
The device itself is a keychain fob with a dime-sized button guarded by a plastic slide so it can’t be pressed inadvertently. During a perceived or real emergency, opening the slide and pushing the button initiates a Bluetooth connection to a user’s cell phone, which in turn calls an emergency response call center. An operator can then pinpoint a caller’s location using GPS and cell tower triangulation, and contact the appropriate parties, be they police, ambulance or family members. A subscriber can also pre-register special instructions, such as medical allergies or instructions for specific emergencies.
In addition, this is smaller - meaning also easier to lose - harder to find in a pocket full of things or worse in handbags. This means it is also an extra device to carry and keep track of (i.e. not forget or lose).
I can imagine the same solution could be combined with a Bluetooth hands free headset, which would also combine two functions in one, and is something we already keep track of. Why not even add voice recognition software so that you can even whisper in it a keyword and it dials the number, or voice-triggered by screaming if you get attacked.
The thing is that though I like the idea of such a device, what MobiWatch is launching is only half-way there and leaves a lot to be desired. I'm in fact even a bit surprised someone hasn't already implemented and launched such a solution, but I might just not know about it yet.