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Startup's mPERS device has siren, camera, pepper spray

Startup's mPERS device has siren, camera, pepper spray Pangaea, developer of the Defender, is crowdfunding, hopes to emulate success of Canary

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.—A developer of Internet-enabled life safety products is teaming up with a central station software provider to bring what it's calling “everywhere security” to alarm monitoring.

Pangaea Services, a startup based here, is in the final stages of development for the Defender, a mobile security app that fuses elements of a mobile PERS unit with several other security functions, including a siren, pepper spray and a small camera that shoots snapshot photographs of an assailant and sends them to a central station.
According to Ryan McManus, marketing director at Pangaea, the company will channel the offering through central stations that deploy AlarmSoft technology, which will serve as the software and infrastructural backbone of the service.

Although bringing the product to market through central stations wasn't initially part of Pangaea's plans—they were going to maintain and run their own call center—the company now views alarm monitoring companies as a fundamental business avenue, McManus said.

“[AlarmSoft] saw the vision for what the product could be, and opened our eyes to the potential of the home security market,” he noted. “We were focused on going directly to consumers through the consumer electronic channel, but now we have two channels.”

With a crowdfunding campaign underway, and with the launch of the Defender to follow soon thereafter, Pangaea is in the process of forming additional exclusive partnerships with customers in the alarm monitoring industry, “predominantly central stations,” McManus noted.

At this juncture, Pangaea has forged partnerships with three security companies, two of them central stations, but McManus was not yet authorized to name them. The company hopes to add more exclusive partnerships with AlarmSoft's customers in advance of the crowdfunding venture, which McManus believes can propel Defender much like a similar effort last year propelled Canary, a smart home security startup that raised nearly $2 million dollars in a 35-day campaign on Indiegogo.

“We are very optimistic that we can be one of those big crowdfunding success stories,” he said, adding that the company wanted to get commitments from central stations, retailers and home security companies before the product is launched so Pangaea can “improve our chances of success.”

McManus noted that getting consumers and security companies involved before the product is shipped will allow the company to generate the feedback it needs to bolster the product's effectiveness.

“It's a great opportunity to gather a few additional pieces of feedback before we finalize tooling for manufacturing,” he said. “There are still features we can integrate into the app.”

Henry Edmonds, president of the Edmonds Group, an investment bank based in St. Louis, believes the Defender at this point “appears to be a unique offering” in an increasingly crowded device market.

In an email communication, he said that when it comes to mPERS, it's not yet clear which combination of features will come to have the widest acceptance in the marketplace.

“In the long run, the winners will be those who not only have the right combination of features for key customer segments, but also have devices that are well designed, highly reliable and easy to use,” he said.

He added that companies appear to be taking two approaches to mPERS. One approach relies on devices that are “essentially enhanced functioning mobile phones” with built-in mobile radio and GPS. These devices tend to be larger because they are self-contained and must include a battery large enough to power it, he noted.

The second approach, followed by Pangaea's Defender, uses the mobile phone as the “communication hub” and connects peripheral functions through Bluetooth, according to Edmonds, who believes both approaches will find adherents.

“If you always have a smart phone with you, you may be happy with Bluetooth peripherals,” he said. “If, like many older people, you don't carry a smartphone, the self-contained device will be more appealing.”


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