The Apple Watch, ECG and fall detection–a trend too far?

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”125″ /]Mid-September’s Apple Fans kvelled about the Apple Watch Series 4 debut. Much was made in the health tech press of Apple’s rapid FDA clearance and the symbolism of their further moves into medical devices with the Series 4 addition of a built-in atrial fibrillation-detecting algorithm and an ECG, along with fall detection via the new accelerometer and gyroscope.

This latter feature is significant to our Readers, but judging from Apple’s marketing and the press, hardly an appealing Unique Selling Proposition to the Apple FanBoys’n’Girls who tend to be about 35 or wannabe. The website touts the ECG as a performance feature, a ‘guardian and guru’ topping all the activity, working out, and kickboxing you’re doing. It positions the fall detection and Emergency SOS in the context of safety during or after hard working out or an accident. It then calls 911 (cellular), notifies your emergency contacts, sends your current location, and displays your Medical ID badge on the screen for emergency personnel, which may not endear its users to fire and police departments. 

Laurie Orlov in her latest Age In Place Tech article points out the disconnect between the fall risk population of those aged 70+ and the disabled versus the actual propensity (and fisc) to buy an Apple Gizmo at $400+. PewInternet’s survey found that 46 percent of those over 65 actually own a smartphone, though this Editor believes that 1) much less than 50 percent are Apple and 2) most smartphone features beyond the basic remain a mystery to many. (Where store helpers, children, and grandchildren come in!)

Selling to older adults is obviously not the way that Apple is going, but there may be a subset of ‘young affluent old’ who want to sport an Apple Watch and also cover themselves for their cardiac or fall risk. (Or have children who buy it.) This is likely a sliver of a subset of the mobile PERS market, which is surprisingly small–only 20 percent of the total PERS market. But monitoring centers–doubtful, despite it being lucrative for GreatCall.

‘Fashionable safety’ alert device for women

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Out of Singapore is a pretty silver necklace or bracelet that does more than adorn: with the press of its small silver button, it can help the wearer get away from an uncomfortable or harassing situation in a public setting (like the workplace, a bar or party) by sending that ‘nick of time’ fake call to your iPhone by Bluetooth LE. Or if held down for over 3 seconds in an emergency, it sends an SOS text, coordinates and a Google Map link via the phone to designated recipients (not law enforcement.) The Guardian Angel pendant was developed by ad agency JWT Singapore to support AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) in Singapore through a 10 percent per unit donation, and is available at local retailer My Room Retail or internationally via their website for US$120 (UK£71) plus shipping, handling and optional bracelets. What isn’t clear is if a smartphone is needed–the website indicates that an app must be downloaded from the Apple AppStore but the Daily Mail article says it works with any phone. Also PSFK review, ABC (US) News. What’s a little disappointing is that the first function (‘get me away from this creep’ self-call) is being more widely touted than the second (‘the creep is coming after me with handcuffs, and he’s not a cop’ SOS). This Editor also wonders how reachable the necklace in particular would be in a truly dangerous situation. But it is certainly better than the alternative. Hat tip to Editor Toni Bunting.

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”120″ /]In TTA 6 March we covered another ‘fashionable safety’ item, the First Sign hair clip, which is more violent crime deterrence and recording-oriented. It senses impact and sends audio/video/GPS location to monitors plus designated recipients along with a pre-recorded announcement that it is gathering evidence. It succeeded in its Indiegogo financing round and is available for pre-order here for estimated November delivery at $50-75 plus monitoring. But so far, fashion hasn’t made its way into the maddeningly institutional PERS design (though Chubb has given it a whirl with its Glasgow competition recently.)