This Apple Watch app will save people’s lives

Alert by HelpAround is a fantastic idea that may well save your life.

Apple, iOS, iPhone, Apple Watch, apps, healthcare
Appleholic (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)


This is such a good idea, Alert by HelpAround (for iPhone and Apple Watch) will tell three of your designated contacts when you need help – and can even call 911.

Developed by the people behind Diabetes Helpers , the newly released Apple Watch OS 2 (and iPhone) apps promise a valuable lifeline to seniors, people with major health problems, or any one of us, really.

Think of it like a panic button. On your Apple Watch (or iPhone). While it’s true such panic button solutions are available, there are many who won’t use them, partly because of the stigma of illness and ageist prejudice, partly because they may make wearers appear to be victims, which can attract fresh problems.

“Many of our parents and grandparents really need a way to reach their caregivers when in distress, but are resistant to the idea of wearing a device that screams, ‘I might need help!’,” said Yishai Knobel, HelpAround co­founder and CEO.


The app isn’t just a panic button. It integrates with Apple’s Health app so users can share health information with caregivers. As you’d expect for a company with a background in diabetes health management, it has specific alerts for blood-glucose fluctuations. While Apple’s devices are unable to measure your blood glucose levels, compatible sensor solutions are available .

Knobel took a moment from his schedule to tell me how important it is that wearable health solutions get past the adoption and usage barriers. "For wearables to become mainstream, users must want to wear them. And for that to happen the wearable device must make them feel good about themselves - not just healthier and safer,” he explained.

“Companies like Apple and Misfit Wearables put elegance front and center and inspire us to build health solutions that make their users feel good about themselves, starting with the hardest nut to crack - the aging population."

How it works

Once you install the app you’ll be asked to add the three contacts you want told if you have problems. You’ll also be asked to verify your phone number and enter the name you want displayed when a call is placed to those contacts.

In future, if you have a problem – say you need insulin or think you’re about to be assaulted – you can tap the Alert button on your phone or Watch. The free app will immediately send a text message with your location and begin a conference call to which it will attempt to bring all your contacts. The app comes with three free calls. To unlock that restriction you currently must pay $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year (in line with similar monitoring technologies on different hardware).


I think this app represents part of the way things are evolving when it comes to healthcare. Wearable connected devices will monitor patient health, and data about that health will be shared with (presumably) monitoring technologies at health provision services, with doctors quickly alerted in the event an intervention is required.

While such wearable solutions promise great benefits in the context of an aging population and as the world faces a growing diabetes problem, they also threaten a somewhat dystopian future. Some analysts think millions of workers will soon be required to use these monitoring technologies to keep their jobs.

This context, this environment, one in which technologies capable of monitoring and sharing incredibly personal details about all of us is precisely why individuals should insist on the rights to maintain their own privacy and security to avoid the dystopian future Edward Snowden warned us about.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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