We’ve seen a lot of personal safety devices over the past few years, but very few have claimed to cover as many bases as the Occly Blinc. As a personal safety device, it’s bigger and a lot less elegant than some of the more fashion-forward options we’ve covered, but it might be worth sacrificing form for function — the Blinc has enough sensors and assorted tech to be your go-to safety gadget, no matter where you are.
Most safety gadgets we see combine microphones, sirens, Bluetooth connectivity, and GPS to act as a panic button and a way to quickly send out a distress call (or text or email) to trusted contacts and emergency services. Occly combines all that with four cameras to create something that’s more than just a personal safety gadget. You can use it as a panic button when you’re walking to your car at night, mount it and use it as a dash cam on the way home, and then set it up on a shelf as a home security camera when you get back. It’s a terrific concept for anyone who wants to fiddle with as few gadgets as possible.
When you’re walking around, Blinc will use GPS, Bluetooth connectivity, an 87 dB siren, and an impact sensor to help keep you safe. A panic button will set the siren off while sending out GPS information to trusted contacts and emergency services through Occly’s own dedicated dispatch service (something that will require a monthly subscription to access). That GPS information can also be sent out if an impact is detected — if you fell off your bike while wearing one, for example. There are also LED lights on the device that can act as a visual beacon in case of emergency.
The four cameras on Blinc can then be used as a dash cam in the car or a home security camera, although to get the most out of the device in either respect, you’ll need a subscription. With a subscription, audio and video can be backed up to the cloud and alerts can be set if the device’s impact, sound, or motion sensors are triggered when being used in the home.
The companion app also displays crime statistics in local areas, and also has a feature that lets users tag certain areas as unsafe. The latter feature will only be useful insofar as there are several other Blinc users in the immediate area, so while it’s a nice idea, it might not be something you can rely on.
The device is big enough to be noticeable, but small enough to be worn like an armband — ideal for runners and cyclists. Occly also suggests that the Blinc can be a deterrent to would-be attackers, although this seems less likely in practice. The device is conspicuous, but I don’t think it’s so obvious that it’s an alarm that it would necessarily deter anyone who wasn’t already aware of what Blinc looked like and was.
If you’re thinking about getting one for a student heading back to college soon, I don’t think it’d be a bad idea, as long as you and your student are aware of its limitations. While Blinc is going to be useful in preparing for accidents or random attacks, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of sexual assault is perpetrated by someone known to the victim. Undercover Colors, a kind of nail polish that can be used to detect the presence of date rape drugs, would be particularly useful as a complement, but it’s been long in development with no hard ship date in sight.
In the meantime, the Occly Blinc is available by itself for $200. You can also choose to purchase a subscription — you can sign up for a monthly $20 subscription and pay $150 for the device, or sign up for a one-time $240 payment for an entire year and get the device for free.