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Mobile duress devices – Safety watch

Back in Mdick-tracyay this year, we looked at the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it was shaping a new breed of mobile duress devices. At that stage, the devices that were available were quite simple products that would transmit an alert message to a friend or family member with a map of where the person in distress was.

Our concern at the time was how the alarm event could be validated and how it would be responded to. In our view, there were a few holes in the principles behind these devices. We also felt they were being over-promoted by making claims they simply weren’t able to back-up.

The next generation of these devices are now coming to market, and with a much higher level of intelligence. What the manufacturers are doing now, is adopting the principle first explored by Dick Tracy in 1946 and more recently by Apple, by making 2-way communications wearable in the form of a duress smart watch.

One such device is the 3G Safety Watch. The wearable safety watch is a compact version of a mobile phone. It can:

  • Make and receive phone calls
  • Allows the wearer to speak directly with a security control room
  • Automatically provides the security control room with the wearers location
  • Has a dedicated push button duress alert feature
  • Is programmable to call pre-set numbers automatically
  • Includes features such as a chaperone service
  • Can set timer alerts for contractors and lone workers

These duress safety watches are not meant to be an alternative to mobile phones. While they use normal mobile technologies, the functionality is heavily restricted and they only come with very small voice and data plans, typically $3.00 a month. They are meant to be used strictly as duress or tracking devices which means exceeding the monthly data and call allowances could prove expensive.

The biggest advancement in these duress devices is the addition of voice communications. This allows control room operators to get an immediate understanding of what is occurring and what level of assistance is needed. They can then alert authorities or other emergency service as may be required.

The devices are not cheap – they are over $600 to buy and cost about $40.00 a month for monitoring. However, in the right application, we believe they can be an invaluable tool in monitoring the health and wellbeing of staff members.


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