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Daily App: ActivBeacon offers to call for help if you have a sports injury

ActivBeacon is an interesting idea for active people who fall down and need assistance. Using the built-in iPhone sensors, the app sends a voice or text message to designated family or friends and gives them your GPS location.

The developers ask you to think of it like Onstar for sports. You start by signing up for a free account using email or Facebook. You then customize settings and choose your fall sensitivity as you don't want a slight spill causing the app to make emergency calls. Then you add your emergency contacts, and you are good to go.

Settings include a session pause interval. You can set it anywhere from 5-30 minutes.. after that interval, the phone will make an emergency call if it detects no movement. The app requires the iPhone to be physically in a pocket for this technology to work, and if you set your phone down you will get false positives. That won't endear you to friends who are on your emergency call list.

The app is ad-supported, but you can buy an option for no ads for 12 months for U.S. $4.99. Usually ads are tolerable, but these pop-up full screen and are incredibly intrusive. I think the developers may have over played their hand with these ads... if you don't dismiss the ad it takes you to the iOS App Store to buy whatever is being advertised. I understand the need for revenue, but this level of advertising injected into an otherwise well designed app is really inexcusable.

The app does work as stated, and I can see it being really useful, especially to skiers, cyclists, runners, or anyone who is active and not in a group. Its utility is limited by connectivity -- if you are deep in the wilderness, you may not have a cell connection and the app won't be able to reach out for help.

Upon using ActivBeacon, it immediately came to mind that similar technology might be helpful for elderly people, and in fact the company offers CareBeacon which is designed for just that purpose.

ActivBeacon is a good idea for the outdoor enthusiast who prefers solo adventures. The concept for the app is a solid one; though, I think the developers should find a better way to integrate ads. ActivBeacon requires iOS 7 or later. It's not universal and is designed for an iPhone.

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