What: SOS mobile watch

Price: $598

Tech Talk verdict: A godsend for carers.

In his declining years my old dad lived by himself and he’d lost so much upper body strength that if he tripped he couldn’t get himself up. We checked on him several times a day and after finding him on the floor one morning – he’d been there all night – we got him an SOS button on a neck lanyard. We found him on the floor another three or four times after that and always his SOS button was hanging neatly in the bathroom.

Is it admitting weakness to wear an SOS button or is it that older folk don’t want to be a burden? Or do they simply forget to put it on?

The experience with my dad made me especially receptive to the sales patter of the SOS Mobile Watch put out by Australian company mCareWatch. Not only is it a lot less embarrassing than having a panic button around your neck, but it does far more. And it looks just like a watch. Hey, it even tells the time.

SOS 2Further, it’s waterproof meaning it can be worn in the shower rather than hung on the back of the bathroom door and forgotten.

It has a very obvious red button on one side that, when pressed, calls three preset numbers with a distress signal. This doesn’t mean that three people come running – this is the cleverness of this device. Rather they just ask what the problem is. Yep, it’s also a limited mobile phone and allows conversations between it and whoever is at the other end.

It doesn’t need an earpiece, it has a small speaker and a microphone built in to facilitate calling and it has its own number – anyone can call it. It can also be set up to sound reminders for pill taking.

But it doesn’t end there. It also has GPS and it can be tracked. So if the wearer goes wandering while wearing the watch it’s a relatively simple and fast process to call up the app and find out where they are.

Here’s another clever idea. You can set up a virtual perimeter (the boffins call this a geo fence) for the person wearing the watch and when they wander outside that area you’ll get an alarm on your phone. The watch is also fitted with a movement detector and if the wearer doesn’t move for some time an alarm can be given.

The device isn’t limited to one area as plenty of conventional SOS buttons are, it can be used anywhere there’s mobile coverage. The only glitch I can see, and I suspect it could be pretty significant, is that it needs recharging every two or three days. It’s also pretty bulky which would be a downer for plenty of women.

The SOS mobile watch costs $598 inclusive of the SIM and set-up fee. It’s available online at and comes in black, white or burgundy.

Published October 2014