Montr Emergency Button Reveals an NB-IoT Future for Personal Safety Alarms

  • The emergency alarm offers cellular connectivity in the absence of regular cellphone signals
  • It is able to achieve its safety-critical-grade on-air reliability, range and building-penetration performance, thanks to NB-IoT modules from Nordic Semiconductor

Dutch startup Montr has designed a small lithium battery-powered NB-IoT emergency alarm to protect people in vulnerable situations.

The company says the cellular panic button can reach places no other wireless signal can go such as deep basements and swimming pools. And even when there’s absolutely no connectivity from a regular cellphone network above ground, it can transfer a user’s ID and GPS location to an emergency center.

To make this possible Montr has employed Nordic’s nRF9160 multi-protocol LTE-M/NB-IoT System-in-Package (SiP).

“A little know-fact about narrowband NB-IoT is that it’s range and penetration far exceed regular wideband cellular signals used by smartphones,” asserts Montr Founder and Director, Stefan Meulesteen.

“This is why I see the future of personal safety being all NB-IoT, and NB-IoT becoming the gold-standard for security applications,” he adds.

Citing the low cost and simplicity that Montr Emergency Button demonstrates, he also predicts that the use of emergency buttons will become a mandatory requirement of health and safety law across the globe for vulnerable lone-worker professionals.

The Collaboration with Nordic Semiconductor

At the end of last year, Montr teamed up with Nordic Semiconductor for employing its cellular IoT modules and cellular IoT technical support.

Meulesteen says: “Without the Nordic nRF9160 SiP our Emergency Button would not have been possible to develop in such a small form-factor, include GPS, be able to run from a small battery for up to 10-months, or achieve its safety-critical-grade on-air reliability, range, and building-penetration performance.

The Nordic nRF9160 SiP is significantly smaller, lower power, and has more security features than any other cellular IoT module launched to date for LTE-M and NB-IoT applications, the Norwegian semiconductor company states in a press release.

The nRF9160 SiP is also the first cellular IoT module to incorporate Arm’s latest Arm Cortex M-33 CPU core. This is supported by 1MB of Flash and 256kB of RAM on-board memory.

“While personal emergency alarms are nothing new, one that uses cellular networks standalone without needing to be paired to a smartphone or gateway is,” comments Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor’s Director of Sales & Marketing.

Features & Functionality

The 58 x 42 x 6 to 24mm Montr Emergency Button weighs just 29g and requires zero user set-up.

Activation is done with a double button press (to reduce the chance of false alarms) that then notifies via encrypted comms an emergency response center of the user’s identity (via a unique user ID linked to each button) and their GPS location.

To reassure the user that help is on its way, the button will vibrate and flash to confirm that the emergency request was successfully received by the emergency center.

At present the Montr Emergency Button is only available in The Netherlands. A Norwegian and German version is planned for launch later this year.