FallCall Lite + Apple Watch: Review
Product name: FallCall Lite
Manufacturer / Distributor: FallCall Solutions
Compilation: Q4 2018
This page contains our FallCall Solutions FallCall Lite review.
Analyst Summary: FallCall Solutions FallCall Lite
The FallCall Lite App (+ Apple Watch) is one of several products we compared in a piece of research called "Smartwatch as Medical Alert". If you are interested in this category of product, we recommend you look at this comparative review.
To use this product you start with an Apple watch, and then download an App called FallCall Lite. The App adds the medical alert functionality. Because all the functionality of the Apple watch is still there too, you get the full capability of a smartwatch, plus medical alert capability. Compared to other products in this category, this has the most smartwatch features.
As a medical alert it functions quite well, but has some limitations.
If you want a medical alert that keeps you as safe as possible, don't mind wearing a conventional medical alert even if it looks ugly, and don't really care about having extra smartwatch features like step counting, heart rate, or the weather in your medical alert, then one of the more conventional products we compared in "Mobile Medical Alerts: Comparative Evaluation" might be more to your liking.
But beware. Even though it is easy to say "I want to be as safe as possible", the truth is many people purchase a medical alert but then don't wear it, because they don't like the way it looks and feels. If you think that might be you, this may be just what you need. Because even though it has some limitations (see below), because it is really "a watch", we think you are more likely to wear this than more conventional medical alerts.
It looks great.
You get the full functionality of the Apple watch, so as far as smartwatch capability goes, you can't beat it.
The FallCall Lite App is really there to add the capability to send an alert to a professional monitoring service (rather than just call your friends, or 911). We discuss why this matters, and contrast it with a regular Apple watch without the FallCall Lite App in Smartwatch as Medical Alert.
The product does not have an automatic fall detection capability. It relies on you to press the button to summon help. For some, this is a major weakness. We discuss this more in the comparative article "Smartwatch as Medical Alerts" linked to above.
In our testing, we found a bug that seemed to result in alerts not being sent to the responder in some specific circumstances. We think this bug may have been fixed. But we would be happier if we had not found bugs quite so easily.
I found this product a bit complicated to set up. And then I found actually using it required quite a lot more steps and button presses than the competitors in this class. See below.
How to use FallCall Lite
Once you install and set up the FallCall Lite App, a "complication" appears on your Apple watch face. In the picture at the top of the page, this is the small + symbol you see at the bottom left of the watch face.
When you want to summon help, you press this + to activate the App.
You then get a screen with a big red "Help" button to press.
Then another screen which asks you whether you want to just alert your "Care Group" or to alert your "Care Group + Monitor".
After you choose one (I choose the monitor option so it calls my professional responder service), it sends an alert.
Then you wait a short time (in my tests it varied between 10 seconds and 90 seconds) and you get an incoming call.
You need to answer that call, which I worry might get overlooked.
When you answer, you are talking with a responder who then triages whether you need 911 or something else.
For lots more details about this product, including the topics below, we suggest you read "Smartwatch as Medical Device?".
In "Smartwatch as Medical Device?" we discuss topics including:
- can you wear it in the shower?
- ease of use;
- where it does and does not work;
- response time;
- how well it can locate you;
- any "failures to call for help" in our testing;
- how this category of medical alert smartwatch compares with more conventional medical devices; and
- features for caregivers (like knowing where the wearer is).
Here are some additional items not fully addressed in our comparative evaluation: Smartwatch as Medical Alerts.
The FallCall Lite App is designed to include others in a "Care Group". It seems a bit more powerful than the other caregiving apps, but we did not spend much time exploring its capabilities. We did however notice a few things worth noting.
- In setting things up, you can't really set up your "elder" tracking capability until you have first set up and paired with a member of your care group. This reflects a sort of "patient / caregiver" paradigm that is sometimes quite appropriate but not always. For example, I wanted to use the professional monitoring service and not really bother with a "care group". But that did not seem to be an option.
- I did not see any easy way to manage privacy of who could see what. However it did not seem the caregiver could ping the device to see where you were and so perhaps there is less need for such a setting.
- When you send out an emergency alert, the caregivers get notified too, along with your location (and heart rate).
Unmonitored Version Also Possible
For completeness we want to mention that if you want, you can use this App without connecting up (and paying for) the professional monitoring service. In that case, any alert just gets sent to the members of the care group.
For some people, who want an unmonitored service, this might be a good option.
We did not really try and evaluate this aspect of the App. We believe there are quite a few Apps that have this sort of functionality in which a care group is set up, and then notified in an emergency. Testing out this use case would involve comparing the App with those other notification Apps.
We think the uniqueness of this App is adding a professional monitoring service to the Apple Watch.
The FallCall marketing material mentions that you can use Siri to call for help. This is an intriguing capability. The command is "Hey Siri, send for help using FallCall Lite".
I tried this out. The first time it called 911. The second time it worked correctly and had FallCall Lite send out a notification. But the notification went to my care group rather than to the professional responder. So this does not seem to be quite right as yet. (Siri often has trouble understanding me correctly so I am not sure whether this is a problem with the FallCall Lite App, or with Siri).
Furthermore, I am pretty sure if I had just fallen and broken my hip I would NOT remember the correct call phrase as above, and suspect that would lead to immense frustration.
My conclusion: I don't think the voice activation is something to rely on yet. But it has great potential.
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About this Research
This product review is part of an extensive series of medical alert system reviews of over 50 products, including hands-on evaluation and real-world testing of the most promising ones, in real-world situations.
These reviews and analyses are part of our Research Project designed to help older adults and their families Choose the Right Medical Alert System for THEM — the result of which is our Medical Alert Systems: Selection Guide.
We have tried hard to make this research as independent and objective as possible. It has not been funded or sponsored by any of the vendors of these products, and includes no advertising or "sponsored content". The team that conducted this research has strong scientific, clinical, and aging services backgrounds. You can read more about the team that did this research at the links above.
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