Note: This blogpost is a translation from the Greek language article written by Konstantinos Mavraganis, published in Huffington Post Greece online edition on April 1st, 2016. The original version is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.gr/2016/04/01/smartwatcher_n_9589126.html?utm_hp_ref=gr-tech
Wearable devices are one of the fastest emerging areas in technology, as more and more people consider buying “smart” watches, fitness trackers, etc. there is therefore increased interest in specialized apps designed for use on smartwatches and similar devices. Personal safety apps falls into this category, a good example being SmartWatcher from Smartwatcher Technologies AG (headquartered in Zurich), which according to its creators, is “a good reason to buy a smartwatch”.
This application can be installed on a smartphone or smartwatch and allows someone experiencing an urgent problem (e.g. a medical issue, violence, bullying etc.) to call for help by pressing a button. However, as the company points out, the app is not just an advanced ‘panic button’, as it includes the Continuous Safety Monitoring feature, the activation of which periodically asks the user to confirm that he/she is safe. In case the user does not confirm, the people who make up the ‘safety network’ are automatically alerted (the ‘Watchers’ up to 12 contacts in total, whom the user would like to be informed if they face a problem).
HuffPost Greece was in touch with the creators of the app, who emphasizes that this is the first of its kind to concentrate on wearables, pointing out that the target audience is everyone who has a smartwatch or smartphone, as “feeling safe and being able to call for help concerns all”. The idea came about because of the personal experience of the company’s founder, Morgan Cohen, who 10 years ago was living in London where crime rates were on the increase: there was a local gang, knocking on doors, forcing their way into homes, stealing things and running away. The police couldn’t make arrests because they always arrived on the scene too late. The idea emerged that the only hope would be if the victims called for help immediately from something as quickly and easily accessible as a smartwatch.
According to the company, no technical knowledge is needed [to use the app] and the market is responding well there has been a disproportionately high number of downloads from Greece. In particular, it was decided that Greece would be a test market, and the app would be localized into languages such as Spanish and Greek.
Concerning instances where the app has been put to use, exemplary is the case of a woman at a bar being harassed by a man who had had a few drinks too many when the woman called for help from her friends through her smartwatch, they rushed to help her. It is emphasized however that the majority of users use the app on smartphones, but the increase in smartwatch sales is rapid. Regarding the future of the personal safety apps, it is estimated that the next steps will be the use of sensors that will “understand” potential dangers automatically.
SmartWatcher can run on Apple Watch, iPhone or Android phone and requires at least iOS 9, watchOS 2, Android 4.1x. It is free to download, but there are in-app purchases.