The Walabot Home isn't a camera, but it keeps an eye on your place anyway. The new gadget from Vayyar Imaging looks like a simple white square that sticks on your wall. Once there, it uses radar to monitor the occupants. Specifically, it's watching for a fall, and if it notices one, it'll send an alert to an emergency contact.
You can buy the $250 sensor starting Wednesday on the company's site. The product is only available in the US for now.
We saw the 3D image-sensing technology built into the Walabot in action at CES this past winter. For this product, Vayyar is focusing on the single feature of fall detection and aiming the device at elderly family members who want to maintain their independence. The 3D maps generated by the radar can supposedly tell the difference between a person standing, sitting, lying down and actually falling down.
If it senses a fall, the Walabot will notify a contact instead of calling 911. Since it uses a low-power radio wave instead of a camera, it'll maintain some sense or privacy for the occupant, and it can "see" through glass walls and steam. It can monitor rooms up to 100 square feet -- so it's clearly meant to be used in the bathroom or bedroom.
The Walabot can only store a single contact in case of emergency for now -- you'll use the iOS or Android app to set up notifications. It can also only accurately sense one occupant in a single room. According to a company representative, "If other people are present, they should be able to help in the event of a fall."
Vayyar has certainly developed some cool tech for the Walabot Home, and if it works properly, it could appeal to families with an elderly relative, especially one prone to falling who doesn't want to wear a pendant.
Still, this first version of the product feels pretty limited. The prototype we saw at CES could track multiple people at once. I understand the company likely wanted to keep capabilities limited in order to get a functional product out into the world, and perhaps to keep things from getting too expensive, but tracking even a second person could certainly come in handy if Grandpa falls and Grandma starts to panic or vice versa.
Plus, not being able to automatically notify 911 or even a second contact feels like a large, obvious omission. And with the small range, you'll probably need multiple sensors to fully cover even a small apartment, which could get pretty costly.
All of that has me skeptical of Vayyar's value, but the tech inside the Walabot is innovative. If it works as promised, it could certainly be worth the price under the right circumstances.