When Robb Monkman was the victim of an armed robbery in 2004 as an undergraduate student, he had no way to call for help while the attack was happening. The Seattle entrepreneur resolved to fix that, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to create a wearable anyone can use to call for help.
The React Sidekick is a small wearable with an inset button that, when pushed, alerts an app on your smartphone to text a message to your emergency contacts, including 911. It can also post to Facebook and Twitter.
It’s not always possible to reach your phone in an emergency, so the wearable will benefit seniors who are home alone and victims of attack or medical emergencies.
The React Sidekick is a small Bluetooth device with a battery that lasts about 18 months, Monkman said.
React Mobile launched an app to call your emergency contacts last year, and it now has 15,000 downloads, Monkman said.
But the most common feedback the company received was that it’s not always possible to reach and unlock your phone, so Monkman said they decided to make a device that can live on your physical person. The device is a small clip with a button on it that could be easily attached to clothing or a belt.
“At the end of the day an app alone is not enough,” Monkman said. “If you’re ever in an emergency situation it’s next to impossible to find your phone.”
The Sidekick can communicate with smartphones up to 30 feet away. It works with iOS 6 and later, as well as most Android devices.
Texting 911 will be enabled as the emergency texting system is set up across the U.S.
The technology acts as a kind of modern day update to Life Alert, a system known mostly for its popular tagline “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”
Life Alert calls a dispatch center that can then alert authorities; Sidekick cuts out the middleman and doesn’t require you to chat on the phone.
The team of six is planning to use funds it is raising through Kickstarter to make 2,500 units by the end of the year. The Sidekick will have an early bird price of $29 that will increase to $50.
The initial found manufacturing will take place locally.
The company is hoping to raise $25,000 to fund the Sidekicks. The Kickstarter launched Wednesday and has raised more than $4,000 with 27 days to go.
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