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‘Silent Beacon’ device and app helps people get aid quietly in an emergency

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The plethora of factors that this gadgets deals reporter likes about Silent Beacon could fill a nice long webpage. First and foremost, the company that sells the small waterproof device that allows folks to press a sequence of buttons to get emergency help in certain serious situations prominently displays their costs and rates directly on their homepage, unlike firms like Life Alert.

In fact, when my dad was still alive and living by himself well into his 80s in Chicago, I put my journalism skills to work by phoning Life Alert to ask about their prices, which they basically refused to put in writing without a lot of wrangling. Only now, by reading the Silent Beacon website, did I learn of Life Alert’s total expenses that run in excess of $500 per year.

Silent Beacon’s app is actually free, and can be used without the device with limited features. When you add the wearable Bluetooth-powered device to the mix, you’re looking at spending approximately $59.99 per year to take advantage of the GPS tracker that can reveal the user’s location in about five seconds – and send that information to family members, friends or whatever emergency personnel is designated for such a purpose via phone calls and text messages.

That speed in location detection is good news to hear, because usually the downside of using smartphones to call 9-1-1 as opposed to landlines these days is due to the thought process that claimed it was harder to track folks who call the police via their cell phones, where information would have to ping off of cell towers. As the company points out, however, these days plenty of people have ditched their landlines anyway and use smartphones as their main phones.

The brainchild of CEO Kenneth Kelley, Silent Beacon came to life after Kelley was involved in a serious car accident – one that made it nearly impossible to reach his smartphone to call for help. Even if he could’ve reached it, he would have discovered – as he did after the cops arrived – that the swiping motion on his iPhone was impossible because the screen had shattered to the point where the device was no longer usable.

Obviously apps and devices like this one, which uses the best of GPS and Bluetooth technology, are well worth the price based on the security and peace of mind they provide. Life Alert uses outdated technology, and it’s high time GPS sensors are used by firms in a manner that doesn’t get the privacy pundits all up in arms. It’s amazing to see the things our smartphone sensors can reveal about our activity – some so “smart” they can accurately predict to others whether we’re most likely running, walking or sitting at any given time. Companies may as well use that advanced technology to try and help save lives – and do so in a manner that might give people an advantage over non-tech savvy criminals.

The proof for the success and desire of this device is in the pudding. The Germantown, Maryland-based Kelley was offered more than $10 million for his Silent Beacon product, the sole one using its patent-pending Bluetooth technology, yet he turned it down in order to keep the device affordable for a large portion of the general public. Instead of fumbling around with cell phones trying to call for help, this device offers a more unique way – and perhaps a much more efficient manner – to get assistance quietly and quickly.

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