Hands-on with the personal alarm smartband
At a time when it feels like we’re being swamped by fitness trackers and smartwatches, it’s refreshing to find a wearable that goes way beyond counting steps or telling you your last hilarious tweet just got retweeted.
The Acticheck Assure is a wrist-worn band packed with sensors that monitor your wellbeing. If it detects uncharacteristic behaviour it warns you via an alarm and alerts emergency contacts by text and email. It can even drop a phone call to family, friends or work colleagues.
Additonal key details, such as location and relevant medical info, will also be relayed to the contacts to make sure they have everything they need to provide the most effective help.
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The Acticheck Assure seems ideal for keeping a closer eye on an elderly relative. There are products already available that do a similar job, but the Assure looks set to be the first you can wear all the time and not have to worry about charging it.
Acticheck also believes it could be beneficial in other scenarios, like a treacherous cycling commute or even a long-distance run.
Currently, the Assure is at the working prototype stage and doesn’t have the capacity to function away from a dedicated home base station, but Acticheck is turning to Kickstarter to fund an app that will allow the band to be used out and about.
The two-toned coloured band, which is slightly wider than a Fitbit Charge and a bit plain looking, is made out of plastic on the prototype. The final version will be made from soft, hypoallergenic silicone, making it more suitable for 24/7 wear. It will also be waterproof to limit the number of times you have to take it off.
The band runs a series of ‘wellness’ checks every 15 minutes and the built-in sensors can detect when the user has
fallen or monitor temperature to distinguish whether it’s being worn.
There are two buttons on the sides that, when pressed, act as a personal panic alarm. This sets off a vibrating alert and phone alert where the user will need to hit a number on the keypad to confirm whether they’re okay.
A removable pod sits inside the band and hosts a standard button-cell battery that’s able to last for two years. The reason it can go for that long is down to restricting the amount of sensors included – there’s no heart-rate monitor or GPS, which would significantly drain the battery. It also uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy to connect to the base station, offering a range of 50-120ft that equates to normal home Wi-Fi coverage.
The home base station is used to track the band and can draw user data stored on Acticheck’s servers, which is protected with a 128-bit encryption technology. It’s powered by USB, so you can plug it into a laptop, and requires a stable Internet connection. The three big orange lights at the front give you an indication that everything is connected.
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The final piece of the puzzle is the browser-based software to store details of the user and their designated ‘carers’ or emergency contacts. From here Assure users can record basic information along with any specific medical or location details, which are sent out to contacts when an alarm is raised.
There’s no limit to the number of emergency contacts you can include, and the software allows you to prioritise the order in which they’re contacted. If the user isn’t entirely tech savvy, you can assign other admins to adjust data and check changes in behaviour over time.
Seeing the Acticheck Assure demoed in a controlled environment is an entirely different prospect to the kind of scenarios in which it should prove most valuable. However, the band’s response time in alerting emergency contacts promises to be just seconds.
Having a companion app to make the band usable away from the base station is the one thing that’s really missing here. If Acticheck can get the funds to make that happen, and can keep the entire setup below £200 as it hopes to do in time for its summer launch, then it has every chance of being a life-changing piece of wearable technology.