Every year there are far too many tragic deaths caused by accidental drowning, so it’s always good to report on products which are designed to prevent these sad events. The problem is especially acute at crowded public pools where it can be very difficult to keep track of small children from poolside.
The iSwimband is a new device which comprises a sensor worn by the swimmer, which connects via low power Bluetooth to an iPhone or other iOS device (Android coming soon). The sensor can be worn as a headband for swimmers or a wristband for non-swimmers. The idea is an alarm is triggered on the phone if the sensor detects it has been underwater for too long a period.
The sensor is paired with the phone just once, and thereafter will work at distances of up to 100 feet away (with line of sight, so it’s not going to remove the need for close poolside observation). Each phone or tablet can monitor up to 8 iSwimbands, and the package contains a sensor and a wristband and headband so you can swap between them for different uses.
The whole concept is excellent, although we have to question some of their design criteria. For a start, to ignore the Android market at launch is more than a little strange, as is the fact that there is no replaceable battery in the sensor unit. So once it runs out of power you basically have to throw it away. Worst still, there’s no way to buy a replacement sensor, so you have to buy a whole new product each time, which is insane.
There is also no clear indication of exactly how long the battery will last in day to day use, although the site talks vaguely about a year or more, depending on use. However the device does include technology which will warn of a low battery in the phone or the sensor which is helpful. The package costs $99, including shipping and handling, and the iOS app is free to download from the Apple store.
A great idea, but with some rather strange flaws we’re thinking.