LO­TUS BY SEAM: STYLISH PER­SONAL SAFETY GAD­GET MISSES MARK FOR MIL­LEN­NI­ALS

Macworld (USA) - - Ioscentral - BY J.R. BOOKWALTER

Any­one out of di­a­pers in the 1980s will re­mem­ber those in­fa­mous Life­call ( go.mac­world.com/lfcl) tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials. Al­though view­ers got an un­in­ten­tional chuckle out of poor old Mrs. Fletcher’s mis­for­tune, in the days be­fore smart­phones and Blue­tooth­con­nected de­vices, such med­i­cal alert prod­ucts pro­vided a glimpse of what the fu­ture might hold.

WEAR­ABLE BUT­TON

The modern equiv­a­lent of Life­call are gad­gets like Lo­tus by Seam, a fu­tur­is­ti­clook­ing disc barely wider than a quar­ter (34.30mm to be ex­act) and 14.47mm thick in­clud­ing the built-in clip used to at­tach the

unit to your shirt, belt, or hand­bag. (The de­vice can also be worn on the wrist or around your neck with op­tional ac­ces­sories priced at $25 and $28, re­spec­tively.) Avail­able in white or black, Lo­tus pairs to the iphone via Blue­tooth and a free Seam Per­sonal Safety app from the App Store.

Us­ing the pair of but­tons lo­cated on ei­ther edge, Lo­tus of­fers three core func­tions: The abil­ity to record and share your ac­tiv­ity as stream­ing au­dio tagged with cur­rent GPS lo­ca­tion; com­mu­ni­cate hands-free in an emer­gency with the as­signed guardian clos­est to you; and is­sue com­mands to your pre­ferred voice­ac­ti­vated per­sonal as­sis­tant—siri in the case of the iphone, Google As­sis­tant for those run­ning An­droid.

The unique Lo­tus face fea­tures a flower-like LED em­blem that glows in dif­fer­ent col­ors de­pend­ing on which mode the de­vice is in— blue when pair­ing with Blue­tooth, pur­ple in standby, green while record­ing a log, yel­low when shar­ing au­dio and ge­olo­ca­tion data, red dur­ing emer­gency phone calls, or a com­bi­na­tion of four col­ors when ac­ti­vat­ing the voice as­sis­tant, a palette which echoes the fa­mil­iar

Google logo.

A sin­gle charge pow­ers Lo­tus up to 42 hours, enough for a day or two of av­er­age use. When it comes time to recharge, sim­ply drop the disc into the in­cluded charg­ing case and plug it into any USB adapter you have ly­ing around. An LED in­di­ca­tor on the front glows red, yel­low, or green to let users know when the Lo­tus bat­tery is low, charg­ing, or ready to use.

JOUR­NEY SAFER

The idea be­hind Lo­tus is a de­vice that re­quires launch­ing the mo­bile app as lit­tle as pos­si­ble af­ter pair­ing. A press of ei­ther but­ton sum­mons Siri and her typ­i­cal arse­nal of com­mands, while press­ing both but­tons at the same time starts record­ing a new log; hold one but­ton down to end a log, or both to ini­ti­ate a call to the guardian lo­cated clos­est to your cur­rent lo­ca­tion. You can add up to five such guardians,

who will be prompted via email and text mes­sage to down­load the app in or­der to mon­i­tor your saved ac­tiv­ity; a free ac­count is re­quired to con­firm and track de­pen­dents, but not to re­ceive emer­gency calls.

If you have trou­ble re­mem­ber­ing but­ton short­cuts, the Seam app can be used to record and/or share a log, as well as ini­ti­ate guardian calls.

The app also comes in handy for find­ing a lost or mis­placed Lo­tus, as well as dis­abling voice­as­sis­tant mode and ad­just­ing

LED bright­ness or speaker vol­ume. I found the lat­ter to be less than ideal even at the high­est set­ting—es­pe­cially dur­ing phone calls—al­though the built-in mic fared much bet­ter.

The Seam app is also used to store recorded jour­neys, an im­por­tant fea­ture for any per­sonal safety de­vice should the wearer run into trou­ble. Un­for­tu­nately, data is only saved for 24 hours and can’t be down­loaded with­out a Seam Plus sub­scrip­tion ($6 monthly, $15 quar­terly, or $48 an­nu­ally), which also ex­tends stor­age to 90 days. Three months are in­cluded at no charge when pair­ing your Lo­tus for the first time, but the de­vice re­mains oth­er­wise func­tional in free mode.

Al­though mar­keted as a trendy life­style gad­get for mil­len­ni­als, Lo­tus will pri­mar­ily ap­peal to care­givers of older iphone own­ers. How­ever, these are the ex­act same users who are most likely to be stymied try­ing to re­mem­ber which but­tons con­trol what com­mands. Out­side of the nov­elty of record­ing jour­neys, this gad­get isn’t likely to hold much ap­peal for Ap­ple Watch wear­ers ei­ther.

BOT­TOM LINE

Blue­tooth wear­ables al­ways sound like a neat idea but fum­bling blindly with but­tons will never be as in­tu­itive as tap­ping the screen of a smart­watch or smart­phone. There’s a lot to like about Lo­tus too, but the tar­get au­di­ence will be bet­ter served by an Ap­ple Watch or even apps alone. ■

Lo­tus pairs with your iphone over Blue­tooth but press­ing two but­tons is all that’s re­quired for most func­tion­al­ity.

Seam also sells a pen­dant adapter and wrist adapter (shown) for those who pre­fer to wear their Lo­tus at all times.

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