The SOS Smartwatch Compared With the Apple Watch
Bay Alarm Medical
May 12, 2022
The advent of the smart watch has brought an amazing amount of computing power from the smart phone onto the wrist with truly convenient portability. The smart watch also solves a problem for medical alerts: while many seniors have been reluctant to wear pendant or clip-on alert systems, the watch allows a sleek and stylish accessory to fill this role now more discreetly.
Apple and Samsung seem to be neck and neck currently in migrating their vast range of smart-phone functions to their smart watches, and both include various medical functions as part of their menu of options.
By contrast, medical alert system manufacturers such as Bay Alarm Medical have used the watch technology to provide a dedicated medical alert system, simply worn on the wrist, and with added health indicators included.
Let’s take a look at how these two different design philosophies play out in practice. Here are the key differences between the functionality of Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch and the Apple Watch.
Monitoring Center vs 911
The SOS Smartwatch has its own built-in 4G cellular connectivity, which connects to our Five Diamond certified monitoring centers across the country, automatically providing the GPS location of the alert. Apple does not use a monitoring center, and this in our opinion is a fatal flaw in using the Apple Watch as a medical alert system.
All models of the Apple Watch connect directly to 911 in event of an emergency, whether triggered by the wearer or automatically by the fall-detection algorithm. This can cause problems because, although the Apple Watch has built-in GPS, many emergency dispatchers across the country receive this alert as a cell phone call and can’t quickly determine the wearer’s location.
In contrast, the SOS Smartwatch connects by voice on two-way speaker to a monitoring center, staffed by trained agents 24/7 – and if the wearer is unable to speak, the agent automatically initiates an emergency call. Importantly, the agent can access the medical record of the watch wearer – something no 911 dispatcher can do – and can provide a potentially crucial extra layer of information if emergency dispatch is required.
Ease of Use
The SOS Smartwatch was designed as a dedicated alert system, with a very quick set-up-and-go process. The icons are large and clear, with simplicity built-in for switching from routine health function to emergency alert, by pressing and holding the physical side button.
The Apple Watch offers an array of features, including texting and music streaming, along with a multitude of app choices. A range of models allows a choice between having independent cell phone capability, or the need to pair with an iPhone. With vastly more options, setup and settings are obviously more complex.
The SOS Smartwatch includes a step-counter that records the number of steps taken by the wearer. You can set goals and determine how well you’re keeping active. More additional health features like this are currently in development. The focus remains, however, on the emergency alert system.
The Apple Watch range of models combine with paid and included apps that monitor health signs that include heart rate and rhythm notifications, blood oxygen monitoring, and even an electrocardiogram (ECG) app. As the computing power increases through the various models, features become more sophisticated, including an altimeter and compass to complement the step counter, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and the built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to detect the wearer’s gait and movement, and to power the still-developing Fall Detection.
Bay Alarm Medical has long offered automatic fall detection systems, but after years of research we decided that fall detection doesn’t belong on the wrist, the most mobile of all body parts. Apple continues to work on its algorithms to eliminate the false alarms that were a notorious feature of the early development of its wrist-based fall detection, and may perfect this in the future. As of this writing, we still don’t see any watch-based fall detection that offers the same reliability as the more traditional systems, and cannot recommend this feature of the Apple Watch.
The SOS Smartwatch costs $179 for the equipment, and $29.95 per month with no contracts and no upfront or other fees.
The Apple Watch can start as low as $199 for a basic GPS model and core fitness, health and connectivity features, and range up to a starting price of $499 to include the higher end health tracking and connectivity functions (plus cellular service of your choice). Apple pairs only with its own products, by the way, while Samsung will pair with both Android and iOS systems.
Recommendations for Seniors
For the senior who already lives in the Apple universe, who is not daunted by the array of options and who may be interested in the monitored health data, one of the Apple Watch models may make a useful gift. Note however that the Apple Watch is only approved by the FDA for informational purposes, and doctors are concerned that the deluge of data no substitute for a real diagnosis, offering more possibilities for false alarms or wrong conclusions on the patient end.
If the objective is simply to supply a senior with a medical alert system that is unobtrusive and dedicated to health and medical alerts, then the SOS Smartwatch is the better choice. Built exclusively for its main purpose and without other data overhead, the SOS is also the lowest price. For the senior who may be daunted by, or simply doesn’t want, an array of extra features, the SOS Smartwatch performs as a dedicated medical alert system in a stylish and comfortable way, with a higher likelihood that the senior will actually use it.