When the elders fall
In an emergency, Secufy replaces an Apple Watch
By Klaus Wedekind
The security companion from German startup Secufy provides security for single seniors by allowing them to get help at their current location anytime, anywhere with the push of a button. In an emergency, this also happens automatically, similar to but slightly different than with an Apple Watch.
Today, many people are able to live independently into old age, even if they are alone. But the danger in everyday life is high that they will fall off. According official numbers this happens to 33 percent of 65-year-olds at least once a year in their own four walls. In those over 90 years of age it exceeds 50 percent. The consequences are much more serious for the elderly than for the young, often breaking their hips or wrists in a fall or injuring themselves even worse.
30 euros per month
In addition to special training, protectors or walking aids, portable emergency call devices can help ensure that the risk of falling does not mean that older people do not have to give up an independent and active life. The security companion from the startup Secufy from Mainz is completely new, and is designed to make it particularly easy to ask for help at home or on the go.
The service costs 30 euros per month, and you pay 10 euros more for a 24-hour emergency service. That’s not exactly cheap, ntv.de tested whether Secufy is worth that much.
The package, which is delivered for an additional deposit of 10 euros, contains the security assistant with a clothespin, three transmitters called Homezone and an inductive charging station with power supply and USB cable. The Safety Companion can also be worn on a wristband, which is available for €10, but given its size it sits best on the hips, where older people can wear it best, according to Secufy.
Setup with the included step-by-step instructions is so easy that no service personnel is required. Security Companion users do not need a smartphone or a home Wi-Fi network.
First, it charges the waterproof security companion at its charging station and distributes the home zone transmitters in the apartment, with which the device can lower the position in an emergency. Small labels can also be glued or screwed on if required.
Once done, log in to the Secufy Connect portal. Even if there is a clear application, the best and easiest way to configure it is in the PC browser. Here, too, the manual guides users step by step towards their goal.
Preferably personal contact
Central are the security contacts, of which you can enter up to five. In case of an emergency, you will first receive a notification by email or SMS, or they will call you. What should happen in the event of an alarm at home or on the road and in what order is determined in the emergency plans.
For example, you can specify that an email should be sent to all contacts, but only person X should be called initially. If they cannot be reached, person Y receives a call. If after 15 minutes none of the contacts have taken charge and you have reported it through the application or the browser, the emergency service will manage the alarm, if you have reserved it. You can also specify who receives a warning if the battery level is too low or if the security companion is not used for a certain time.
Sensors automatically detect emergencies
The user is recognized by position sensors. With them, the device can automatically detect an emergency and trigger an alarm if the security assistant does not move for a certain period of time. Since this could also happen during the afternoon siesta, Secufy recommends placing the device in the charging station during this time, as it will not trigger an alarm if it is in a completely horizontal position. Secufy does not offer automatic motion-based fall detection like the Apple Watch does.
Otherwise, the porters give the alarm manually by pressing a little more on the outside of the security assistant. The resistance is large enough to prevent false alarms. If this is done on purpose, the user can clearly feel this in the form of vibrations, and the LEDs also light up alternately blue and orange. As soon as Secufy sends the notifications and calls are made to the contacts, the user is informed about it by short renewed vibrations. There is no option for additional acoustic feedback.
Reliable inside and outside the house
In the test, the alarms reliably arrived with a delay of around a minute. A problem with the calls could be that they are coming from a US service and therefore may be rejected as suspected spam. Contacts should be aware of this and ideally allow them to add the phone number to their address books during a test alarm.
The system always reliably determined the user’s likely position based on the closest source zone transmitter in the test. In the event of an alarm outside the apartment, the alarm sounds first, and then the position determined by GPS is delivered with a slight delay. In an SMS or email, a link leads to Google Maps and the map is displayed directly in the application. With a deviation of a few meters, Secufy also completed this task perfectly.
However, the carriers of a security assistant are not tracked, the position is only determined and transmitted in an emergency. The only information that administrators or contacts can always see in the app is the number of steps taken the previous day.
It is not cheap, but simple and effective.
In the test, the Secufy security assistant turned out to be a simple but effective emergency system, above all, the good functionality outside the home and the priority given to private contacts convinced. However, 40 euros including the emergency service is not a small thing. According to Secufy, health insurance companies typically cover the costs if the level of care is adequate, even if the system is, by definition, too modern for the criteria that still apply to home emergency call systems.
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