Earlier this summer we discovered an app out of Espoo that was putting awesome use to old smartphones. BiiSafe’s concept was then to help people keep their eye on their property – whether it’s their home, office, or even a place like your boat, by using your old smartphone hooked up to a data plan or WIFI. Smartphones are loaded up with sensors, so you could use it to see video, take pictures regularly, or even leverage other sensors, like if the device loses its power connection or moves from its location (which sure would be useful for your boat).
At that time of writing we saw they were also working on a personal security solution, called BiiSafe Buddy, which has as of this weekend hit their IndieGoGo minimum of $35,000.
BiiSafe Buddy isn’t just another personal security app, of which we’ve seen a couple, like Norway-based Bipper’s bSafe or more recently something like iHELP. Instead, BiiSafe leverages some of their own hardware to provide a safety beeper that connects to your phone.
They’re going after a few demographics with this device. The first is elderly people and children, who can provide updates of where they are to their loved ones, or get in touch if they fall out of reach of a phone. Additionally BiiSafe sees themselves providing value in B2B sales for “the lonely worker” who could be out in the field somewhere, and need access to communication close at hand. And thirdly, people involved with sports like skiing could find the device useful.
CEO Jouni Suutarinen says that they’re still honing in on what market to fist go after, but he points out that they’re fitting in with the trend that more and more people are aging, and that due to costs governments are pushing to have people spend more of their later years at home, rather than going to nursing homes.
We’ve gotten our hands on a test BiiSafe Buddy, and while I was first suspicious about why anyone would need a basic extension of a button on their smartphone, I can now clearly see the practicalities. I made my colleague, Dmitri, my safety contact person, so he’s received “way too many” test updates of my location from me buzzing him for fun, because it was really easy to do so. With one short press, BiiSafe Buddy connects to my phone, and through the cloud sends him a text message with my exact location.
If I hold down the button for a two-second press, BiiSafe automatically opens up a VOIP call to his phone number allowing me to speak to him through the phone without having to navigate through anything. Another useful feature is that the BiiSafe Buddy device beeps and blinks if I get out of range of my phone, letting me know that I left our tester phone at the office.
One thing BiiSafe wanted to do with the hardware was to provide a device that doesn’t look and feel like a safety device that screams “I am handicapped” like some of the devices targeted towards the older generations imply through their design. The device is available in white or black, and with gold or silver edges, making it feel more like a tech device or something dressier, if you want it to be. BiiSafe gave us the following images of the device dressed up a little bit, which Grandma might like.
The battery works 3-12 months depending on use. The BiiSafe Buddy connects to your phone throw low-powered wifi, which has a range of 20-50 meters. Not every mobile phone has this type of bluetooth connection yet, but despite that, there are some cheaper options out there, like the Motorolla Moto G phone, which is being sold for $179, still making a whole package a reasonably priced for people worried about their children or parents.
Additionally the device has a few more tricks up its sleeve, like being waterproof, so you can take it with you into your shower. BiiSafe also has its own motion sensor to track steps (to see how active your parents are) or be tied to an alert to let you know when there’s been a fall.
Their crowdfunding campaign has seen good momentum already, with $36,000 raised with 16 days left. The device’s is expected to retail in stores somewhere between $49 and $99, but the IndieGoGo special prices pre-orders at $35.