It's said we exit this life the same way we enter--drooling and in need of diapers. It is, then, cruelly fitting that Medical Mobile Monitoring has recently developed a medical-alert tracking system that resembles a baby monitor.
The company's MobileHelp medical-alert system, launched in November, tracks users no matter how far they wander, as long as they are within range of an AT&T cellular network. It costs about $35 a month. The system also uses GPS satellite tracking, so you can literally watch the person you are monitoring online in real time:
When subscribers need help, they simply press their help button and are connected via two-way voice to a central monitoring station that is live 24/7/365. The technology from Medical Mobile Monitoring also allows family members to see an online map and location of their loved ones over the Internet and be notified via mobile phone and email when an emergency arises.
Aside from such a service being both inherently creepy and inherently useful, it is also a sign of the times. In October, we covered the release of a similar tracking system, called EmSeeQ, whose faceless black watch has the unfortunate effect of looking like something Batman or a secret agent would wear, thereby calling unnecessary attention to itself.
MobileHelp's waterproof pendant may be better, but still doesn't hit the mark. For one, it's a pendant, so it may cater to women more than men. Second, it's not terribly attractive, so it may not cater to women very well. Third, the pendant only works in and near one's home, where the base station lives. And finally, the big "help" button looks far too easy to hit by accident.
Then there is the Mobile Unit, which has GPS satellite presence detection and weighs less than 4 ounces. Unfortunately, if someone wanders off without realizing it, s/he will likely do so without remembering to bring a cell phone, a sandwich, or a map, let alone the Mobile Unit tracking device.
Medical-alert tracking systems are improving in the back end, but the devices themselves have a way to go before they become super lightweight and handy, something someone will wear at all times without feeling burdened. Medical Mobile Monitoring was issued its patent in 2003, before iPhone apps came along. While this may have been considered cutting edge back in the day, I won't be surprised if this system isn't bested in 2010.
Until then, MobileHelp may be best used by the likes of Bear Grylls, ideally if, in the process of pulling it out and pushing the button, he must also remove his shirt.