LONDON Design consultancy Fen Technology Ltd.(Cambridge, England) has teamed with Securecom Technologies Ltd. to develop a Bluetooth-enabled panic alarm that can work with a Bluetooth-based GSM phone or a satellite phone.
The so-called Wireless Personal Alarm is a button-size Bluetooth pendant that enables the user to send an alarm, with embedded location information to preselected recipients, while the user's GSM or satellite mobile handset is beyond their immediate reach. For GSM, the latest network-based location technology is used; for satellite handsets, embedded Global Positioning System (GPS) technology is utilized.
Securecom, an Irish company, which holds patents for the technology, has been working on the project for over three years, including the last 18 months through funding from the European Space Agency (ESA). According to Patrick Hartigan, CEO of Securecom, the total cost of the project to date has been Euros 300,000, half of which has come through the ESA.
"When we had the idea for this, back in 2002, we made certain assumptions. For instance that GPS would be in the Bluetooth range, and so it is not necessary to put a GPS in the device, thus saving on costs, power consumption and size. And that anyone using it would subscribe to a network positioning service.
"We were right on these assumptions, and we have developed a product that is ready to be commercialized. However, we need to negotiate distribution agreements with interested parties in different parts of the world, and we are open to suggestions as regards partnerships to get this product to market as quickly as possible", Hartigan told EE Times.com .
"Fen Technology and their partners have used their Bluetooth knowledge and product development experience to help us realise this novel solution," said Hartigan. He added user trials are under way with the fully functional devices.
Ciaran McAleer, business director at Fen Technology, said it has been working with Securecom for over six months on the project. "I believe the ability of the system to Bluetooth-enable existing satellite phones and provide the same sort of service to standard Bluetooth GSM handsets, is something no-one has done before."
The product comes in two parts, either the alarm on its own that can be used with a Bluetooth enabled handset, or in conjunction with a dongle that is needed to connect with a satellite handset. "We anticipate the vast majority of users would just take the tiny alarm, which we have now got down to measuring just 32-mm in diameter," said Hartigan.