Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report
A local wearable technology company is advancing its work on internet-connected products that could help first responders find and treat patients faster than ever.
San Antonio-based WiseWear announced its partnership Tuesday with RapidSOS, a New York City-based emergency technology company, to provide WiseWear customers with enhanced access to emergency services. WiseWear device users will have the ability to send their personal health information and exact location via a direct data link to compatible 911 dispatch centers during an emergency situation using the RapidSOS emergency functionality built into WiseWear’s smart jewelry and other devices, the company said.
The direct link to 911 can help save precious minutes in an emergency response, according to RapidSOS.
RapidSOS has an emergency platform that sends data from multiple sensors on wearable devices that connect to the internet. This can include the caller's precise physical location, emergency type, real-time heart rate, and stored user profile information such as family medical history that is sent to 911 and first responders.
RapidSOS is in the process of setting up integration links with 911 call centers across the United States to enable the rich data links from partnered devices such as WiseWear's.
Bexar Metro 911 Network District Executive Director Bill Buchholtz said RapidSOS technology holds promise for San Antonio's 911 call center.
"It's a promising technology, it's one of several technologies under review," Buchholtz said. "At the moment we are still in study mode. Once we've finished reviewing it, we'll make the decision."
The RapidSOS integration would allow for interconnection with the leading vendors of 911 call-taking, computer-aided dispatch systems, and mapping solutions. When a 911 call comes in, the 911 equipment receives the data from the internet-connected device.
"The voice and location information can be sent to 911 everywhere with the existing 911 infrastructure in place," RapidSOS spokesperson Michelle Cahn said. "As agreements are negotiated with 911 call centers across the country, RapidSOS will be able to send the additional rich data as well."
In 2013, WiseWear founder Jerry Wilmink introduced a line of water-resistant bracelets that track physical activity and calorie intake and send emergency notifications using a paired smartphone. The bracelets range roughly in price from $300 to $350.
In July, WiseWear announced its second product, the Vigilant safety and security device, a small round beacon that can be attached to a keychain, clip, or watch as a personal security measure for those in high-risk medical or security situations. The pricing on the forthcoming device, developed in partnership with San Diego-based Ingenu, has not yet been disclosed.
Using Ingenu's low power signal network, the battery life for the device is extended. This benefits users such as children, the elderly, travelers, or anyone looking to stay connected longer to emergency alert services regardless of whether they have a smartphone or their location worldwide.
WiseWear's Vigilant device can trigger an alert when the user leaves a predesignated “safe” geo-fenced area, sending GPS coordinates and messaging to a list of selected emergency contacts. Additional settings can alert 911 services for immediate emergency response.
If the child suffered from a health condition or the elderly person had health complications requiring constant monitoring, that health data would be transmitted along with the person's location.
"Our mission is to build transformative technology to save lives," said Michael Martin, CEO and co-founder of RapidSOS. "By partnering with innovative wearable companies, we are enhancing access to emergency services for people nationwide, allowing for faster response and improved emergency outcomes."
RapidSOS said its technology would be fully integrated into all 911 call centers nationwide. When 911 operators open a window on their computer terminal for an incoming call, the RapidSOS “tab” would appear, displaying the user's data sent after the emergency alert.
WiseWear is one of five companies partnering with RapidSOS.
“All of our products are integrated into that backend of RapidSOS,” Wilmink said. “We’re also going to have a standalone [smartphone] app for users who don’t have our hardware products to connect their rich data directly into 911 across the country.”
Using a cellphone to instantly report an emergency is no guarantee that 911 can locate you quickly. Emergency dispatchers do not automatically receive a Global Positioning System (GPS) fixed location when a 911 call comes from a cellphone.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated that by 2021, 911 centers must be able to receive accurate locations from 80% of wireless calls.
“The time we save in triggering emergency response can save lives,” Wilmink said.
WiseWear is also one of 38 groups in the U.S. competing during the next year in a $1 million XPRIZE competition designed to identify technology solutions for pressing global issues such as women’s safety. WiseWear said it is working on a system that is less than $40 and can help women respond to possible safety threats. The Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE will be announced June 2018.
WiseWear's headquarters is near Interstate 10 and DeZavala Road in northwest San Antonio. With about 10 full-time employees, the company continues its work developing new wearable devices.