Lotus Personal Safety Device Review
Retail Cost: 164.95 CAD
Reviewed by Jill Murray, Runner
The Lotus Personal Safety device (LPSD) is marketed as a novel device that solves the problems of other "single-feature solution" products which offer GPS tracking, panic buttons, or other one-way communication methods. The LPSD links via Bluetooth to an app (iOS or Android) on the user’s phone which allows the device to use the phone’s camera and microphone to create “journeys” which can be transmitted in real time to a maximum of five people (who must also have the app). The device also has the ability to make two-way calls to an emergency contact (or "guardian") at the touch of a button or through a Voice Assistant.
The LPSD comes packaged in a smart and sturdy box with a charger box, charger cord and quick start manual. When I opened the box, I was impressed with the packaging and compact device, but disappointed to see that there was no wrist-strap included. A quick look at the SEAM website informed me that the wrist-strap and pendant attachments are sold separately, meaning that to wear the device on a run, it would have to be clipped to my clothing, or put inside a pocket. This wasn’t what I expected, but I figured I could manage. I use an iPod shuffle for music during my runs and the clip has always worked well in that case.
As I was experimenting with the device, I tried to clip it to my shirt, dropped it on the kitchen floor (linoleum) and the clip portion snapped off. The plastic broke entirely so it wasn’t possible to maneuver it back together. While there would certainly be an option here to ask for a new device from the manufacturer, after experiencing the flimsiness of the clip, I wouldn’t trust it during a run and would only wear it in a pocket in fear of losing it without noticing.
Without a wrist strap, pendulum attachment, or clip to use, the device was like a small stack of coins in my pocket as I ran. If in an exceptional circumstance (running through a dark, secluded path, for instance), it would be feasible to just carry it directly in the palm of my hand for easy access. Otherwise, I would need to reach into my pocket to access it which carries the risk of dropping in a frantic situation.
The Seam software was easy to find in the App Store on my iPhone. There were prompts to access virtually all areas of my phone (camera, microphone, contacts, location) with a warning that if I denied access, the software will not work properly. The app itself is not user-friendly. Many commands require dragging an icon to another icon to begin a function. There are “log” entries that seem to begin without warning and start to record location, photographs from the front and back camera, and sound bytes. The necessity of this feature in the context of safety for runners is lost on me.
In Theory and in Practice
The LPSD makes sense on paper, as a device external to a smartphone, which many runners carry tucked away in a secure holding place when in motion and not immediately accessible in the case of a sudden emergency. The LPSD, a smaller device that can be worn on the wrist or clipped on externally should theoretically be more accessible for active people in action. However, because of the clip malfunction, and the lack of wrist strap, the device sat in my pocket during my run - much like my iPhone. In this respect, it was just another piece of gear to keep track of. To be blunt: why wouldn’t I just use my phone?
The quality of the call, once connected was good and I was able to communicate with my “guardian” easily through a two-way call, much like speaking on my iPhone through speaker phone.
After testing out a few features on the device/app, I attempted to turn the device off. It took me more than ten minutes to finally succeed. Fwef! As someone who is neither tech-saavy nor technically challenged, overall I found this gadget was overwhelming in scope and should have just kept things simple. I am a runner who often runs alone. This device did not give me any sense of security, and actually did the opposite when, while exploring the features at home, it somehow managed to access my laptop camera (in the process of wrestling to turn it off) and started broadcasting my own video-feed to me.
To sum up, I would not recommend this device to anyone looking for a simple solution to feel more at ease while running alone. For the price, a pair of iPhone headphones with a built-in microphone would do the job in a much more stream-lined manner.
Small, compact design and packaging
App easy to download and add "guardian" as a contact
Potential for convenience if used with wrist strap
Wrist strap/pendant accessory not included
App requires access to camera, microphone, contacts and location (feels like an invasion of privacy)
Device clip not durable
Complicated button commands difficult to remember
App not user-friendly
Jill is a maritimer who transplanted to Ottawa for its beautiful running paths and wonderful running community. A graduate of Kinesiology at St Francis Xavier University, Jill is a happily busy mother of three and spends most of her time transporting her children from one place to another - often while pushing a running stroller.
Jill shares her adventures in parenthood on her Instagram account @jillamama.
She is a member of the OACRacing Team.