There are dozens of nearly identical products on the market that can help the elderly call for help with the press of a button. Most of them, though, rely on having an at-home receiver unit connected to the phone or internet through which the emergency signal is routed, and they tend to charge a monthly fee that can eventually dwarf the price of the product itself. The V.ALRT from VSN Mobil is a solution that works anywhere you have a phone signal and doesn’t come with any monthly fees. The company sent us a review unit to check out and here’s our review.
The V.ALRT is really just a black button just a little larger than the diameter of a quarter coin, but within there’s a Bluetooth chip and a watch battery. It looks both simple and slick, not having any markings or clues as to what it really is. The button comes with a rubbery wristband into which it can be inserted to make it look like a faceless watch, as well as a band that can be used to wear it as a necklace or as a keychain. It’s very light and shouldn’t bother anyone wearing it over their neck, while the rubbery wristband may be a little irritating especially for people with lots of hair near the wrist. Nevertheless, we tried wearing it on the wrist it over a period of a few days and haven’t noticed much discomfort.
The device works through an iPhone or Android smartphone app where all the settings are define and which does all the communication functions. When the button is pressed on the V.ALRT, the app sends text messages to preset contacts and initiates phone calls to people on the list. The messages contain a link to the GPS location of the stricken person’s phone so that family and friends know where to go and who else to call to get additional help. The app, when activated, also sounds a loud alarm on the phone itself to alert those nearby of an emergency. All this happens within a few seconds of pressing and holding the button for a couple seconds. Conveniently, the alarm can be easily cancelled if triggered accidentally.
There’s also an automatic fall detector that can trigger an alarm on its own. We tried this, a couple times trying to simulate a fall, but were not able to get this function to work. We certainly didn’t try to injure ourselves in the process, so perhaps our efforts weren’t sufficiently dramatic.
The V.ALRT pretty much works as promised, sending emergency alerts that arrive within about two seconds in our trials. The GPS locations have been accurate and the device requires almost zero instruction on how to operate. The trick is to keep the app running and to have the phone with you throughout the day. The device does beep whenever it goes out of range of the phone and the app will sound a chime if it’s not picking up the V.ALRT’s Bluetooth signal. The latter can be turned off within the app if you don’t want it bothering you.
One of the best parts of the V.ALRT is that you don’t have to recharge it. There’s a standard sized watch battery inside that powers all the electronics supposedly for almost a year. We didn’t get a chance to test how long the battery lasts, but it’s easy to simply twist the device open and put in a new battery.
There’s a nifty find feature that lets you have the V.ALRT beep repeatedly to make it easier to locate. It’s just an option within the app that you click, and as long as the device is within range it’ll beep and glow red on its front face.
Everything worked as intended, except the fall detection feature that we had trouble activating. It’s very easy to setup and to use when an emergency strikes. Being able to automatically share your GPS location with loved ones during a critical situation can be a lifesaver, and since it’s just a link within a text message, it works on any device or browser.
We’d prefer the wristband to be less rubbery and more plastic-like, but it seems to be common among activity trackers and other devices worn on the wrist. We’d also recommend offering different color options for the V.ALRT and its bands, since black might not be for everyone.
The V.ALRT seems like an excellent and very affordable option for the elderly that want to have an easy way of getting their loved ones on the line when emergencies come about. There are no monthly fees and no services to work with. There’s simply the V.ALRT device and your phone, which for most people works just about everywhere they go. This means the device has a universal aspect and can even be taken abroad and continue working, as long as your data plan with the wireless provider is set right.
Product page: V.ALRT…