The device was invented by Belgian entrepreneur Hadrien Dorchy, after he got stranded out at sea when the fin fell off his windsurfing board. He was far enough offshore that there was no cellular signal, so he couldn’t call for help. Fortunately, a passing boat eventually picked him up. That experience led to the creation of the O-BOY.
When not needed for rescue purposes, the watch simply displays the time of day on its digital Gorilla Glass screen. If the user gets in trouble, though, they can summon help in one of two ways.
Should they just need someone to come pick them up, they press a button on the side of the watch five times consecutively. Doing so activates its GetMe service, in which a prewritten message and the user’s current GPS coordinates are sent via satellite to up to four personal contacts.
If the user is injured or things are otherwise more serious, they press the button eight times. This activates its RescueMe service, in which an SOS signal with GPS coordinates is sent to the closest emergency rescue station.
Additionally, if the user just likes the thought of someone knowing where they are at all times, they press the button for 10 seconds at the start of their outing. This activates the watch’s TrackMe service, in which it transmits the user’s current GPS coordinates to up to four contacts at 5, 20 or 60-minute intervals.
The O-Boy itself is dust-proof, shock-proof and waterproof to a depth of 10 m (33 ft). One charge of its lithium battery should be good for at least seven days of standby use, or the sending of a minimum of 48 messages. And importantly, it does not have to be paired to a smartphone in order to summon help. A Bluetooth smartphone connection is only required when initially selecting the four contacts and composing the GetMe message, via an app.
Should you be interested, the O-BOY is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Assuming it reaches production, a pledge of €265 (about US$294) will get you one. The planned retail price is €365 ($405).
A subscription is required, which can be purchased for different rescue functions on a per-use, monthly or annual basis. Prices range from $9.95 for 50 credits of GetMe usage, up to $199.95 for one year of TrackMe usage.