The small and simple mobile device allows users to place a call to a service centre in the event of an emergency, while satellite positioning via GPS provides information about their location with an accuracy of 50 metres or less. Weighing less than a hundred grams and as small as a mobile phone but with four large and clearly discernible buttons, the device is easy to handle and above all straightforward to use.

“The design is very simple, it doesn’t have all the functions of a mobile phone, but that is what trial users most liked about it,” explains Stefan Lilischkis, the MobilAlarm project manager.

Though mobile phone penetration among people over 65 has increased sharply in Europe in recent years it still remains far below the rate for the broader population as elderly people struggle to come to terms with the dozens of complex features being packed into modern phones.

“The handset has two large buttons on the side that when pressed simultaneously initiate a call to the service centre. For people with diseases such as Parkinson’s this is an important feature because it allows a user to make an emergency call by simply gripping the device, rather than having to find and press a button,” Lilischkis says.

A separate button initiates a call to a pre-programmed telephone number, which could be that of a friend, relative or neighbour, while enhanced audio features mean the device does not have to be held up to the ear. Another button is for cancelling a normal phone call.

The GSM connection itself was shown to be particularly robust, allowing connectivity for emergency calls in places where normal mobile phones were unable to establish a connection.; Source: IST Results