Startup WiseWear Connects With Ingenu on Wearable Security Device

San Antonio—WiseWear, a San Antonio-based wearable technology maker, has created a new product that uses a low-power wireless network to help users stay connected to an emergency alert services around the globe.

The company and its partner on the device, San Diego-based Ingenu, plan to sell it as a small, circular piece of Internet-connected technology that can be attached to a keychain, clip, or watch, as a security measure people such as children, the elderly, executives, international travelers, or high-risk (read: wealthy) people. Called Vigilant, it will be WiseWear’s second product, following a line of Internet-connected jewelry that allows users to track calories or send an emergency alert.

That first device, which was designed by Iris Apfel, needs to couple with a smartphone. For its second product, WiseWear wanted something that could operate separately from a GSM or CDMA network, the two cellular technologies used by wireless companies, says Jerry Wilmink, CEO of WiseWear.

“We wanted to create a standalone device that connects anywhere and does not require a smartphone,” Wilmink says. “This is particularly of interest for children and seniors. We needed something that was kind of easy to use and with an extended battery.”

That’s how WiseWear connected with Ingenu, a company formerly known as On-Ramp Wireless that focuses on what it calls a machine-to-machine communications. As Xconomy has previously reported, Ingenu operates private, wide-area sensor networks that monitor things like oil and gas production that uses lower-power 2.4 gigahertz frequencies. Ingenu’s technology, which it calls Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA), lets devices connect on lower-power spectrums that are commonly unused throughout the world.

The connectivity, safety, and battery life are what Wilmink says separate his device from others on the market, some of which are quite well known—nearly everyone has seen Life Alert’s commercials. The battery on the Vigilant product can last for weeks rather than days, Wilmink says. The company isn’t revealing more details about the device yet and doesn’t have a specific launch date. It should be affordable, he says, at less than $100.

Ingenu has primarily focused on working with industrial customers, helping large equipment stay connected, such as in the oil and gas sector. The company is currently building out its network globally, Wilmink says. Part of the reason WiseWear decided to partner with Ingenu is because of its security, he says. The company uses six security measures that run off MAC addresses, rather than IP.

“It’s really not hackable, the way the IP address is hackable,” Wilmink says. “The biggest strength Ingenu has is encryption.”

The build-out of Ingenu’s network will allow WiseWear’s security device to eventually remain connected anywhere there’s an Ingenu tower, he says, and the Vigilant product can connect as far away as 80 miles. The product can track the GPS location of its user, and if the user goes outside of a set parameter of boundaries, an emergency alert will go out to a select list of contacts.

WiseWear uses a patented method of transmitting wireless signals by using coupling an antenna with metal, using that metal to transmit the signal. The company is participating in a $1 million XPRIZE focused on women’s safety, incentivizing companies to develop technology that’s similar to the Vigilant device.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at Follow @xconholley

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