Sydney 11 February 2020

An all-new personal emergency alarm that helps vulnerable people stay safer and enjoy more freedom and independence was released today by Australian assistive technology experts, mCare Digital.

The neat, discreet personal alarm, mCareMate, overcomes some of the practical problems encountered by people who use traditional personal alarms. It was developed after extensive consultation with individuals, families and organisations which support the elderly and people with disabilities, and builds on mCare Digital’s existing suite of specialised caring technology solutions. It is suitable for individuals, families and care organisations.

“Factors such as ease of use, breadth and reliability of coverage and instant, real-time location visibility have all been high on the emergency personal alarm wish list,” said Peter Apostolopoulos, mCare Digital Managing Director.

“As basic as that sounds, for some users, even the most popular personal alarms have been problematic in one or all of those areas. The result has been reduced safety, independence and peace of mind for all concerned – whether it’s device users, families and carers.”

Mr Apostolopoulos explained the key areas of concern with existing personal alarm systems or panic buttons.

“Some are linked to base stations, so only work in a limited area. Others rely on phone monitoring centres, which can be subject to delays and limited location visibility and accuracy. This can be stressful and time consuming on an everyday level, but fatal in an emergency. And sometimes, personal alarm devices are just too complex for their users. The so-called ‘best’ technology isn’t the best if it’s just left in the bedside drawer and never used.”

The mCareMate specifically addresses those issues, combining the latest 4G, GPS, Wi-Fi and fall detection technology in a super easy-to-use, lightweight, water resistant unit. It offers instant visibility of wearer location, both indoors and outdoors, with coverage across 99.4% of the Australian population. It is entirely pre-configured so is ready to use on delivery, with no need for any technical or other specialised know-how – apart from hitting the ‘on’ switch.

Its emergency SOS function can be triggered automatically, for example if the wearer has a fall or by the wearer in case of distress. Families or carers can view location and other information from the mCareMate in real time, anytime, via an app on their mobile phone or via a dedicated secure online carer’s portal.

Mr Apostolopoulos explained that in its latest review of the existing personal alarm market, mCare Digital also encountered another issue: privacy and security. Because traditional elderly alarms are typically configured via SMS commands, which are not secure (and often even revealed in user guides), they are easy prey for hacking and outside tracking and interference.

“At a time when the need for better privacy and security is increasingly top of mind, we see this as a growing issue. Having devices open to malicious tampering or data misuse in this way is unacceptable. Commands and configurations for mCareMate are kept entirely secure,” he said.

“In the end it’s all about doing more to relieve pressure on an ever-growing proportion of our community, using technology to help the people who need it most have a better, safer quality of everyday life and work.”

The mCareMate is available from 11 February 2020, from $299 for the device plus setup and activation and service plan.