A former motorcycle stuntman and entrepreneur has developed a device that acts as a panic button, and is connected to a smart device, which alerts loved ones when you’re in an emergency.
Silent Beacon is a wireless panic device that connects to smartphones, tablets and other Bluetooth devices. By pressing the two buttons on the side of the device, an alert can go to loved ones. There’s also a device with one button.
Kenny Kelley, founder and president of Silent Beacon, lives in Rockville but used to practice some of his motorcycle stunts in Frederick County.
Silent Beacon was born five years ago after he was in two different accidents where he couldn’t reach his phone. The first was in 2005 when he popped a wheelie on Interstate 95 near Laurel.
“I just went back and I wrecked,” he said. “I was on the side of the road and I thought, ‘I need to get help. I have this cellphone in my pocket. Why can’t it get to everyone immediately?”
He was also in a crash in 2012 where his phone fell to the floor and he couldn’t reach it to call for help. After that incident he decided to design a product that, with the push of a button, alerts 911 or your loved ones that you’re experiencing an emergency.
With Silent Beacon, there’s no monthly payment; the device simply piggybacks off the user’s phone.
“Instead of trying to open your phone, scroll to call 911, figure out where you are … it’s just hit a button and everyone knows where you are immediately,” he said. “And it can call 911.”
The device must be connected to the Silent Beacon app to work. If the device is more than 200 feet away from the phone, it vibrates and lights up to notify the customer that the connection was lost.
Once the buttons are hit, the stored emergency contact is immediately called and any other stored contacts get a text message, an email and a push notification stating that you need help. It also sends out your GPS location.
The user has to put in a password in the app to end the alert, which is critical if you are in a domestic abuse or robbery situation, Kelley said. This way, the offender has no way of ending the alert.
“There’s no off button on this thing,” he said. “Once you hit it, you’re on alert. No one can say, ‘Oh, who are you calling? Turn that off.’”
The device costs $99.99. It comes with a clip, a USB port and a startup manual. The app is free but has optional in-app purchases. The app has a Footsteps feature, which tracks the user’s route wherever they go, and Nudge, which alerts a designated contact that the user arrived safely to their destination.
The device is round and about 2 inches in diameter. It comes in multiple colors and can be worn, clipped or hooked onto a key chain.
It has a silent mode and notifies the user when the battery is low. Kelley said it must be charged once a week. Once the device reaches low battery, you and your emergency contacts get an alert reminding you to charge the device.
“We wanted to make sure that you could get help when you need it and make sure that it works when you need it,” he said.
The device also has a speaker and microphone allowing users to speak with their emergency contact, without even touching their phone, once the alert is sent.
It also has a patent for the two-way communication between the device and the phone.
Silent Beacon went to market in March and is currently sold in one store — Nebraska Furniture Mart. Customers can also buy the device online at Silentbeacon.com. Kelley is also in negotiations with Home Depot and Best Buy.
The “modern-day Life Alert” can be used by any demographic from child to college student to senior citizen.
Tyler Charuhas, sales director at Silent Beacon — who knew Kelley before coming to work for the company —immediately became passionate about the product when he learned about it. Since his mom has frequent seizures, he immediately saw it as something that could help her.
“If she was having a seizure or felt really confused and she called me and just started blabbering, which has happened, I wouldn’t know where she was,” he said. “So this [device] being able to provide the GPS signal on top of making the phone call is so important. Silent Beacon does solve that problem as far as the response time.”
From motorcycle stuntman to encompassing the entrepreneurial spirit, Kelley has come full circle — once living on the edge, now delivering a device that keeps people safe.
“I only do things I’m passionate about,” he said. “I’m passionate about giving back to the community and making products that will save lives. It allows you a wider net of safety when you’re in an emergency.”
Follow CJ Fairfield on Twitter: @FairfieldCj.