Aussie eButton arrives to improve safety, but is it worth your pocket space?

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A new gadget designed in Australia could make personal safety much easier than shouting for help, delivering an alert beacon for your phone when you desperately need the help, but will it really help, or is it just a $30 gadget you’ll never use?

Called the “eButton,” it’s a little emergency button developed by Coffs Harbour local Ian Kinny, built to make personal safety a priority for people who needed it, relying on a nearby mobile phone in a distance of 20 metres to call out to trusted people if someone requires help.

“Essentially we wanted to create a ‘peace of mind’ button which would serve families as well as encourage good corporate social responsibility for businesses looking after their employees, including late night workers or those working in remote regions,” said Kenny.

“You might be threatened, or it might be impractical or embarrassing to take your phone out of your bag, unlock it, and scroll through several screens to either call, SMS or initiate an app to request assistance,” he said, adding that “people needing the eButton could include an elderly person living independently, a person walking to their car or using public transport, backpackers, or a teenager at a party needing to be collected by their parents but not wanting to initiate a call for risk of being ridiculed.”

It’s worth noting that the eButton doesn’t work by itself and requires a phone supporting Bluetooth Low Energy to work. That’s not just any phone, either, because while the iPhone 4S and higher (5, 5S, and 5C ) all support the technology, the eButton has been designed to work only with Android, with the app only compatible with Google’s Android ecosystem.

Bluetooth LE can certainly be found on quite a few Android handsets, but not all — mostly flagships from 2013 onwards — so it won’t be on a product everyone can access, limiting availability and access for this product.

Looking at the eButton, we see it mostly for seniors, since younger generations will likely be faster with their handsets and have them with them at all times.

With that said, we’re not quite sure how many people who need this will have compatible products, altogether.

As an example, few if any of the dumb-phones out there — handsets with physical buttons — will support the required Bluetooth Low Energy technology also known as Bluetooth Smart, a factor that is required to make the eButton work.

Most of these button-based handsets already have a form of the eButton built into the handset, often in the form of an alert switch found on the back of the handset which will — when switched on — send out messages to a group of people programmed into the phone.

In fact, we’re a little surprised that the eButton doesn’t have a SIM of its own, like some of the smart watches made for kids that are beginning to hit the market or the very basic phones appearing in Australia, relying instead on a technology only very recent products have.

It’s a curious gadget, that’s for sure, but one we’re not really sure of the market for.

An example SMS from the eButton

If you have a family member carrying a flagship or mid-range Android handset bought from 2013 onwards and you think this is of value, the $30 price tag could possibly be worth the cost of admission, and hey, it’s not like $30 is much (although the postage is $7.20 and the app is another $2, so that brings it closer to $40).

But if that family member is using anything older or less flagship-y, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

Sure, you could convince them that a new expensive phone and a thirty buck gadget will help them in times of need, but when there are apps available that could work too, we’d probably just suggest trying these to start off with instead.