*Update- 7/1/16- The price for V.ALRT had been reduced from the original $59.99 to $39.99.
As the medical alert system industry continues its evolution towards connected devices, the V.ALRT app (and help button) are leading the way. Made by VSN Mobil, an up and coming company that offers a range of innovative products. One of our favorites is the V.ALRT help button. This little button is breaking traditional medical alert industry rules, and that is very exciting.
One of those long-standing rules is the idea of monthly fees. We're happy to tell you that the V.ALRT system has NO MONTHLY FEES. Yes, it's crazy, but true.
The V.ALRT help button can be purchased for $39.99. We found it on Amazon for $34.45. No monthly fees, no hidden charges. V.ALRT does many of the things we have been asking for in a medical alert system.
The V.ALRT button comes in a variety of form factors. It can be worn around the neck, as a watch (the button comes with a simple black watch band), on a key fob or discretely placed in a pocket, bag, or purse. The V.ALRT is waterproof, has optional fall detection, and a long-lasting battery. More on that below!
We tested out the V.ALRT in our home lab. The first step is downloading the V.ALRT app to any compatible smartphone. The V.ALRT connects to the smartphone via bluetooth connection. So if the user doesn't have a smartphone, this is not the right product for them (see my wish list below).
Connecting the device to my phone took a little time, however the folks at V.ALRT explained that the time to connect varies depending on the phone and version of bluetooth. Once the devices were paired, I was able to enter the information about who I wanted the system to contact IF I pushed the button or had a fall. V.ALRT does not call 911, it only contacts the people you designate.
Text, Phone and GPS Location Notification
Once the alert button is pressed, or a fall is detected, the V.ALRT will send information to the pre-designated contacts with a personalized message through the app. First, a text message with GPS location included is sent, then the app automatically dials the number of the contact to place a call. I see this feature coming in handy in emergency situations where trying to call out is too stressful or a user is physically unable to access their phone. I'm personally going to use V.ALRT when I am out running or cycling on my own. The alerts and messaging are completely customizable through the app.
Fall Detection and Out of Range Alerts
Within the V.ALRT app, users can turn on (or off) the Fall Detection and Tracker Alerts. If a fall is detected, the app will send an alert after a 60 second countdown to eliminate the chances of false alarms. If a user has a fall and is able to press the button themselves, then that scenario would be ideal. The fall detection feature is meant for situations where the user is not able to press the button.
I found the fall detection difficult to trigger with the “false” falls I was acting out to see how sensitive the device was. The last hard fall I took sounded the alarm and sent an alert to my husband's phone, just like it promised. If the alert button is disconnected or travels out of range, an alert (optional) is sent to the button and the tethered phone.
Long Battery Life and Waterproof
Another complaint I have with many medical alert systems is their battery life. V.ALRT's battery can last up to a year depending on usage, and once a change is needed, it's simply a watch battery that can be replaced by the user. When I asked Matt Gordon, VP of Strategic Marketing, about other features in the works for V.ALRT like activity tracking and a microphone, he replied that those great features would impact the battery life and have not been added, yet. The push button is waterproof and can be worn in the bath and shower. I tested this feature with multiple showers, a dog bath, and a spilled drink with no side effects.
No Monthly Fees
This is my absolute favorite part about V.ALRT. There are no monthly fees, no set-up costs, no contracts. This is a device that could be shared among users if needed, although at the price, why not buy one for the whole family? I think of V.ALRT as a family safety product, not necessarily a medical alert button for seniors. In fact, I will be using one for myself, and will likely purchase one for my kids.
My Wish List for V.ALRT
After reviewing medical alert systems for a few years now, I have this idea of what I think is the perfect system. V.ALRT is great, and if they want my advice on V.ALRT 2.0, here is what I'm hoping for.
- Un-tethered technology: While the statistics are impressive — Experts say that by 2017 50% of seniors will own smartphones. However, there are still those won't ever own one. Plus, I don't always carry my phone with me, especially in my home.
- Speakerphone: I really like alert systems that have a speaker built into the device. Especially for those with impaired hearing.
- Activity alerts: Many new alert systems come with activity tracking and they will alert if they sense any abnormalities. I have come to appreciate that functionality in a medical alert system, and I'm starting to expect it.