Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Invention of the day: Cell phone distress beacon for those who are at risk of being abducted.
A camera cellphone for anyone who fears being abducted has been devised by Nokia. It pretends to be off while actually sending an emergency alert, complete with pictures, sound and GPS location.

A recessed panic button triggers a pre-recorded emergency message when pressed. The phone camera then takes and sends a series of time-stamped snapshots or video clips to a service centre or trusted friend, along with any sound picked up by the microphone. If the phone has a GPS receiver it also stamps the message with location.

If reception is lost, for instance if an abductor drives into an underground car park, the phone stores images and audio in memory and automatically transmits them as soon a signal is regained.

Transmission can be discrete, with the phone apparently off, or obvious to warn an abductor that a call for help has been sent. Once triggered, the emergency call can only be halted by entering a personal code, so accidental false alarms can be averted.
Here's the US Patent Application.