A new iPhone app named ActivBeacon is designed to automatically send for help if you crash. Check out this video for a quick introduction to this interesting concept:
While this is an extremely interesting product, this still isn’t a substitute for accepting the risks, being self sufficient, and riding in control. After perusing the website, there are a few issues or questions that quickly become apparent:
- According to the website, “ActivBeacon works anywhere you have the internet on your phone.” Personally, many of the places I ride I don’t have cellphone service at all, much less a 3G signal. Granted, if there’s even a bit of cell service an SMS message can probably go out, but based on the description it’s unclear whether or not the SMS will send if there’s no internet connection. I checked with ActivBeacon about this potential issue, and they “are working [on] a function that would show last [known] position on a web interface.”
- The website also mentions that the message will be sent when you stop. Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes I enjoy chilling out at the top of the climb and occasionally cracking a cold one.
Even if there is a “pause” feature in the app to prevent it sending a message, remembering to pause your emergency app every time you stop could get annoying pretty quickly.Update: According to ActivBeacon, “In the app you can vary the threshold for inactivity 5-30 mins. There is also a pause session button.”
- Interesting statistic from the ActivBeacon website: “In 2010 in the U.S., almost 800 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 515,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries,” according to the CDC. While many of those injuries and deaths are probably road cyclists, mountain bikers are most definitely not immune!
- ActivBeacon is free to use, with costs covered by in-app advertising. If you want to remove the ads, you can do so for a fee ($4.99 for 12 months), but you can get all the functionality immediately for free.
Granted, this isn’t the first app on the market to offer this service: Jeff wrote about My911 back in 2010. Still, at first glance ActivBeacon looks to be well-made and to have a professional development team backing it, and with the price ranging from free-ninety-nine to five dollars, it’s much cheaper than the $24.99 asking price for the full-bodied version of My911.
Your turn: What do you think: will you install this app?