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iSwimband – wireless monitor triggers phone alarm if there’s a danger of drowning


swimband3 iSwimband   wireless monitor triggers phone alarm if theres a danger of drowning

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.

swimband2 iSwimband   wireless monitor triggers phone alarm if theres a danger of drowning

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.

iswimband iSwimband   wireless monitor triggers phone alarm if theres a danger of drowning

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.

swimband

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.

iswimband2

A great idea, but with some rather strange flaws we’re thinking.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.



  • Dave Cutler

    Hi Nigel,

    First let me thank you for posting an article about iSwimband on RedFerret.

    I wanted to take this opportunity to address your concerns:

    “For a start, to ignore the Android market at launch is more than a little strange,”

    For our initial launch, we decided to launch with iOS as our development team was more familiar with it and has an existing relationship with Apple. Believe me, we have every intention of coming out with both an Android and Windows Mobile app as quickly as possible.

    “… 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. ”

    As for the battery, we opted to go with a fixed battery to keep the sensor housing as reliably waterproof as possible. We could have opted for the user-replaceable battery, similar to a diver’s watch for example, but this would have increased development time, manufacturing risk, as well as the risk of user error in replacing the battery. That stated, we are currently exploring wireless methods (induction, RF, energy harvesting) with the idea being to offer a subsequent version that will allow a user to recharge their sensor’s battery.

    “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.”

    As for battery life, we apologize for any apparent ambiguity or vagueness. However, it is hard to determine exactly how long the battery will last for each user because its life will vary considerably from person to person wearing an iSwimband. For example, if rarely used, the sensor could last considerably longer than one year. Conversely, if the user were to swim every day with their iSwimband on, their battery would obviously drain faster.

    To be a bit more specific, we based our projected “one year” battery life on someone using their iSwimband every other day for 4 hours each day, or 720 hours a year. (I think you would agree that this is a considerable amount of use for most people.) Based on these somewhat conservative parameters then, the battery life was projected to be 1.64 years. However, so as to not over promise our product’s features, we indicate a battery life of “about one year or more”. For most users though, we believe that their iSwimband battery will last considerably longer.

    Note: We will post this mored detailed information on our site’s FAQ page shortly.

    “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.”

    Good point but I promise you that we are indeed sane. As our website FAQ page indicates (http://www.iswimbands.com/#!questions-and-answers/c8yk) our plan is to make the sensors available for sale soon. We are simply waiting for our manufacturing partners to ramp-up their production.

    I hope my explanation helps a bit to address your concerns. Again, thank you for your review.

    Dave Cutler
    Co-Founder, Aquatic Safety Concepts LLC.

    iSwimband.com

    • http://www.redferret.net/ Nigel Powell

      Thanks for your detailed comments Dave, I can understand the balancing act you have to face when coming to market with a new product, and obviously compromises have to be made. I guess of all the issues we highlighted, I was most baffled by the battery one, since we now have a pretty established formula for securing products (even mobile phones) against water ingress.
      But I’m sure you’ll figure it out, and it’s a great product concept nonetheless. Good luck with it!

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