ArmHER, which is India’s first smart security device built by Innovative Ideals & Services (I) Pvt. Ltd helps women in distress and in case of emergency situation. ArmHER is a wireless micro-switch that connects with an ArmHER app installed on a smartphone via Bluetooth wirelessly and when the micro-switch on ArmHER is pressed, the smartphone sends out the custom emergency messages along with the exact location, date and time to 5 pre-selected contacts in the form of email as well as SMS.
We got an opportunity to review this smart device and here are our observations, pros and cons of this device.
Design and Build: The ArmHER device is a small and convenient circular device measuring just 15 cms in diameters and its housed inside a rubberized enclosure that has a key-chain hole using which it could be connected to a key chain or to a user’s chain or can carry conveniently in the purse. Inside the device is a main printed circuit board (PCB) which is embedded with a small micro-switch and a small buzzer is also available inside the device. The device made of plastic and the quality of the plastic used is just average. On one side of the device is the Micro-switch along with a Bluetooth led indicator and on the other side is a visible circular holes for buzzer. At the side of the device is a slot and a plastic tray is provided to insert the battery. The device is operated using a CR-2032 battery to enable the circuitry which use a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology that consumes very less battery. One should be very careful while inserting this battery to the device as it may damage the device itself if one puts a force or handle it roughly while inserting. The layer covering the micro-switch is also delicate and one should not be using their nails to operate the same which could be easily damaged or torn.
How to setup ArmHer?
Once an user inserts the battery inside the ArmHER device, she/he has to download the ArmHER app from Android play store or Apple App Store and enable the Bluetooth on their smartphone. Once enabled, app has to be started and the device has to be paired with smartphone. After that, a tag will be created in the app where user can go the SOS settings and enter upto 5 phone numbers and 5 email addresses along with a customized emergency message upto 140 characters.
Performance: The device works as expected and claimed, when an user is in distress situation or needs to call for help or notify someone urgently, just long pressing the switch for 5 to 6 seconds sends out the pre-saved emergency message along with the current google maps location to the recipients instantly including the date and time. Few pre-requisites to make note and which are must for proper functionality and if one wants to make use of the device effectively is listed below.
- Active Internet Connection on Smartphone.
- Bluetooth should be active all the time.
- ArmHER service must be running in background all the time.
Software and UI: The user interface of ArmHER is simplistic and understandable even for a layman user and it doesn’t need an expert to understand and set it up which is commendable. As I mentioned above the must have pre-requisites, there is a load on the battery of the smartphone and there are chances that these would drain up the battery fairly quickly. This is since, the ArmHER service runs the camera service all the time on the device and also Bluetooth is enabled and synced with the ArmHER device constantly. The Camera service is enabled because, the user can use the micro-switch on the ArmHER to click even selfie or the pictures from the rear camera also if the mobile device is in hand which would actually help to capture proof or the culprit’s face, but the use case is rare and not always useful in certain conditions like when the victim is locked by multiple miscreants and cannot even move in first place, forget taking out the phone and capturing the picture. Also, when this service is running in background, the phone’s native camera wouldn’t work or crash even if you force close ArmHER service or app. Once you force close the app and try to re-open it, even the camera wouldn’t work even in ArmHER app. Only solution here is to reboot the phone so that the applications start working normally. Please note: We haven’t tested on iOS so we cannot comment on the experience on the same. What we think here to alleviate the situation or as a suggestion to the company, one doesn’t need to have camera function at all inside the app and instead of running camera also as a service, just run the application as service and if users want to use the device as selfie clicker, build a separate camera app or find out a way to make the device work with native camera app which would be an added advantage for the users buying this device. Also, if the company works with government and authorities to set up an hotline or 24/7 email and SMS monitoring to distress alerts from women and to act on them immediately to dispatch the cops immediately to the Victim’s shared location, this device would be an instant hit. At this point, no one knows where the attacks would happen and how close is their friends/relations would be to help a victim instantly. By the time, the friend/relative turn up to help, disaster would have struck already. Only consolation is, one can know where the victim was last found or the incident occurrence time and place via the distress messages which the recipient gets.
Price and Availability: The ArmHER device is priced at Rs. 1499/- INR and its available for purchase on eCommerce site Amazon here
Conclusion: The motive behind manufacturing this device is truly commendable keeping women’s safety in mind and the device in sync with app works also in favor of Women in most of the cases, but there is still a scope of improvement in handling the application crashes, load on smartphone battery and the build quality of the device. Also, though Rs. 1500/- is not a huge amount for safety purposes, if the pricing is under Rs. 1000/-, we guess many people would be interested to buy this device from market.