By Kevin O’Rourke
A Germantown-native hopes to shake up the personal security market and take a bite out of crime with a new invention that will hit store shelves in October.
Last year, Kenneth Kelley invented the Silent Beacon a wearable lifesaving device for individuals that is designed to provide immediate aid to those in need. The device is a small fob that allows users to use Bluetooth to instantly locate, track and communicate with loved ones who require emergency assistance.
Kelley developed Silent Beacon and started the company of the same name after being in a car accident, which rendered his phone screen useless and made it impossible to contact family members. At that moment, he realized how desperately people needed a fast and more reliable method to get help in emergencies.
“I found it odd that the violent crime rate in America was rising even though more and more people had access to phones,” said Kelley. “Something was not adding up, and the reason was often in an emergency you can't get to your phone. So, no matter how prepared you are you can still have no access to your phone in an emergency. I wanted to create a device that did the work for you, quickly and quietly.”
The Silent Beacon is a Bluetooth device which works by simply connecting smartphones and allowing for real time GPS tracking and alerts, which are delivered to loved ones or to medical personnel. It also comes in the form of a safety app that helps one find a “beacon” in cases of emergency.
Both the device and the smartphone app were designed with one purpose in mind: that of providing immediate assistance to those who find themselves in an emergency situation by allowing to locate, track and communicate with those who may be in need of emergency assistance. Plus, the hope is that the app and the device will also work as a crime deterrent, thus managing to lower the crime rates in the country.
The Silent Beacon will sell for $59.99, making it the most affordable device of its kind, according to Kelley. The devices – which have a pending patent application – are being presold through the company’s website, www.silentbeacon.com.
Recently, the company started a crowd-funding campaign through Indiegogo.com to help generate support for the product and keep the cost low enough for anyone to afford. Started in mid-July with a goal of raising $20,000, it has raised more than $50,000 to date.
“The funds are to pay for the manufacturing cost of the device,” said Kelley. “They will pay for the tooling and shell of the design. From there I will only need to pay per-unit keeping costs down.”
Kelley said he was raised Germantown. “I left for years and started an extreme sport company in Los Angeles. Germantown is where I grew up, so it’s only natural,” he said of having his Silent Beacon headquarters in Germantown. “I returned home to my roots.” Kelley is also the vice chairman of the Montgomery County Partners for Animal Well-Being, MCPAW, which is they charity arm of Montgomery County’s new animal shelter.
While he is not able to know exactly how much of the crowd-source funding came from his friends and family in the Germantown area, he said he knows many contributed. “I can see who donates and was overwhelmed that so many people in the area believed in this.”
Kelley is sure that anyone with a smartphone should have a Silent Beacon. “The market for Silent Beacon consists of anyone with a smartphone, which is growing daily,” said Kelley. “There are actually more smartphones in the U.S. then there are humans.” The Silent Beacon app is currently available for download for Apple iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices.
Kelley thinks that the app and device are indispensable for all citizens in the United States not only because of the crime rate in the country, but because of the high number of people who suffer from chronic conditions that put them in need of constant medical supervision. “With the baby boomers turning into seniors at a rate of 10,000 a day the marketplace for this type of product is getting larger.”
Currently, the device is being sold only through the company’s website or through the crowd-funding campaign, but Kelly hopes to have the product in larger electronics stores soon. “We hope to have Silent Beacon at most cell phone accessory stores including Best Buy and HH Gregg. We have received an overwhelming response from local stores as well,” he said.
"I was offered eight figures for the rights to Silent Beacon, but declined, realizing the company wanted to sell it at a higher price; my goal is to save lives and give families peace of mind … not exploit crime. We believe Silent Beacon will become a low-cost crime deterrent that puts criminals on notice," Kelley stated. "We believe our products will drastically decrease the national crime rate, making America much safer."
The Silent Becon promotional video.