Apple recently announced a new ‘SOS’ feature coming to the Apple Watch—similar to a PERS device.
If an Apple Watch user holds down the device’s side button, emergency services local to that user’s location will be notified, as well as emergency contacts.
I spoke with former Numera CEO, current Group VP of the Nortek Innovations & Incubation Foundry, about how the Nortek offerings compare to the announced features of the Apple Watch SOS. He said one particular differentiator for Nortek is "the advanced fall detection capabilities. In order to have highly reliable fall detection, you need to have something around your torso."
Smokoff noted the difference in battery life. The Apple Watch lasts about 18 hours and the Libris mPERS device lasts “about 2-and-a-half days on average,” he said.
There is a gap in price between the Apple Watch, which needs an iPhone to work, and the Libris mPERS device which stands alone and costs less than the Apple Watch by itself.
While I’ve heard of new and emerging markets for personal emergency devices—such as hikers, lone workers or for college campus safety—many of the PERS and mPERS companies I’ve spoken with point to the aging-in-place market as the market’s main demographic.
It seems to me that there are several reasons why the Apple Watch SOS feature wouldn’t break into the aging-in-place market. Firstly, both the Apple Watch and the user’s iPhone need to be charged and both devices need to be near each other.
Second, older PERS or mPERS users may not be as comfortable with technology and, therefore, less likely to own and operate an iPhone in conjunction with an Apple Watch.
Should people take notice of Apple’s entrance in the market? Will Apple take customers away from dealers in the PERS and mPERS space? If you have any thoughts, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.