IoTMaker Inspiration post: location aware devices will save lives

Last updated: 26 January 2023

We thought these potentially life-saving real-world examples might prove inspiring for those of you thinking up ideas for our IoTMaker challenge.

Mobile phone tracking

Have you ever wondered how the emergency services would be able to find you should a disaster occur and you can’t describe your whereabouts?

Current statistics suggest the UK public makes 36 million 999 calls a year, of which two thirds – 25 million – are placed from hard-to-locate mobile phones. On average, distressed mobile callers spend a further three minutes trying to explain where they are; 330,000 of these callers are unable to convey their exact location. More disconcerting, there are an estimated 36,000 critical events each year in which the emergency services have to spend upwards of 30 minutes attempting to trace the caller’s location.

Up until now, in a worst case scenario, cell tracking technology could only locate a caller to within a few square kilometres. It’s therefore good news that BT, EE and HTC have teamed up to deliver new mobile tracking  that can help 999 operators locate emergency callers to within an area half the size of a football pitch.

Using Advanced Mobile Location (AML), the new system will initially work on the latest HTC handsets using the EE network; but it is being made freely available to other manufacturers and networks.

Whenever a caller makes a 999 call, the phone will automatically switch on its GPS radio and send a text message to the emergency call centre, with precise details of the caller’s location. The message will typically be sent within 18 seconds of the call being made and will be invisible to the user.

Vehicle and passenger tracking

On the theme of clever emergency response capabilities, eCall is a ground-breaking initiative intended to bring rapid and automatic assistance to motorists involved in incidents anywhere in the European Union (EU).

As soon as air bags and other in-vehicle sensors are triggered, the system initiates a call to the nearest emergency call system and sends key situation data, including exact incident location, time stamp, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The EU has challenged industry coalitions to include eCall in all new EU passenger cars and light commercial vehicles by 2015.

SOS wrist watches

SOS wrist watches are also coming to the fore. The TRiLO GPS Personal Locator Device (PLD) is being used to locate people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It enables two-way voice calls and has a remote listening feature so caretakers to detect when immediate help is required. The wearer also has access to an SOS button in case of emergencies.

And let’s not forget the very elegant Limmex watch. It looks like any other Swiss watch but it has an emergency button, which when pressed, will send an SMS with GPS details to a defined emergency contact. It has an in-built microphone and loudspeaker so the wearer can then communicate with their emergency contact person.

These emergency service innovations provide good inspiration for our IoTMaker challenge  in our view! If you’re thinking of entering, you have just over two weeks left to get your ideas for the IoT innovations that could make a difference to public safety, home automation, farming and fishing, office rudeness and more (to pick a few of the suggestions we’ve had in the last few weeks!). Just tweet @gemalto with the hashtag #IoTMaker, email us at or leave a comment on any of our IoTMaker blogs.  Prizes include Cinterion concept boards, iPhone 6s and – of course – the chance to see your concept become a reality, showcased at Mobile World Congress 2015.

Update: The entry window for the IoT Maker challenge has now closed, stay tuned to the blog for more information.

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