Ituran CEO Nir Sharetsky: The PAL device offers personal security to everyone who wears it and makes them locatable if they are in trouble.Wouldn’t it be wonderful to let an elderly relative, who only occasionally becomes disoriented, have the freedom to go about his business knowing that he could easily call for help?
Or know that if your child went missing, that there would be a reliable way to locate her?
Or hit the ski slopes or go for a hike in the mountains, knowing that if an accident happened, you could be located?
A new system developed by Israeli company Ituran makes all of these things possible. The Personal Alarm & Locator (PAL) is the size of a standard pager, making it the first wearable location, tracking, and alarm device that can keep track of any person or object 24 hours a day, wherever he is.
“After September 11, personal security became a major concern in the United Sates and around the world,” Ituran CEO Nir Sharetsky told ISRAEL21c. “The PAL is a product whose time has come.”
The company, already well-established in the field of locating stolen vehicles with a special tracking device, invested more thant $5 million in the development of the PAL and its advanced miniaturization techniques.
The Ituran tracking system on which it has built a solid reputation was jointly developed in the early 1990s by Air Touch-Teletrac and Tadiran. Based on the high-tech tracking system to locate downed pilots for the Israel Air Force, the Ituran technology is considered by many to be more reliable than the Global Positioning System (GPS) which relies on continuous, uninterrupted direct sky contact to successfully track and locate targets.
By contrast, Ituran uses a terrestrial network of base stations to effectively track and communicate with mobile objects using a technology which is largely immune to electromagnetic disturbances and operates reliably even within dense urban environments and indoors.
Ituran has been a business success story. With innovative marketing the Company moved from no sales in 1995 to over $25 million in 1998. The selfsame system devised to rescue pilots from enemy territory is now being used successfully to track and locate stolen cars in Israel. In the last two years alone, the Ituran system saved the Israeli insurance industry an estimated $50 million dollars.
It was only a matter of time until the company switched its attention to the personal tracking arena. Already in operation in Israel, Ituran has also introduce PAL into international markets – initially targeting South America and the United States.
“From our market surveys in the US and in South America, we have found that personal security, locating loved ones quickly, and protection from crime and terror is on high awareness and the company plans to radically expand its marketing and sales activity in these countries,” Sharetsky said.
“In the United States, we are on the market in Florida, and we are exploring the possibility of entering the market in New York.”
“The device offers personal security to everyone who wears it and makes them locatable if they are in trouble – even in a situation such as a terror attack or other large-scale criminal act in which the cellular telephone networks collapse – our network continues to operate,” he said.
This unprecedented technology allows for the precise location and tracking of individuals, as well as of portable and valuable merchandise. The cost and size of the device make it ideal for a very wide variety of applications.
The road map for future PAL development includes minimization to a watch size, integration into cellular phone battery packs (the first such running prototypes are already in use), and integration as a chipset inside cellular phones and other portable devices.
“Our main aim is to improve the personal security of people, particularly the elderly and ill by providing a wearable mobile alarm device,” said Raff Tuatara, the former Deputy Director at the Israeli Security Agency who developed the PAL system.
Until now, the most common type of monitoring in place for those groups who are considered to be “at risk”, such as the elderly and certain types of patients, has been effective only within the confines or hospital. Now, with the availability of the PAL application, the individual may have complete freedom of movement and still remain under supervision at all times, so enhancing both the feeling of security for the individual and improving his or her quality of life.
The device can also be used for worried parents: with access to the Internet, parents can enter Ituran’s web-site where they will have the ability to “see” their children any time of the day or night, and have the confidence of knowing their precise whereabouts. This may be when the children are on the way to school, at a friend’s home, at the cinema or involved in any other kind of activity.
It can also be used to enhance the feeling of security of women or men who are traveling alone in dangerous areas. The panic button facility on the PAL application provides the ability for the first time, for help to be alerted, and provided at the precise location wherever it is required without any further assistance from the caller.
The device clearly has commercial benefits as well.
“Reducing the chance of protected merchandise with the PAL being stolen, will help companies and individuals receive high discounts on their insurance policies. Discounts from the insurance companies, and the fact that the PAL can be reinstalled between merchandise, gives the customer the ability to save money and see the system as a long-range investment,” said Tuatara.
The PAL application can upgrade business efficiency and productivity, contributing to the economic management of staff anywhere in the office, on or off the factory floor, in or out of the building. It can also be used for merchandise tracking.
By discreetly fitting the PAL to any valuable goods, which may be at risk, such as computers, diamond cases, cigarettes and so forth, the prospect of retrieval is greatly enhanced. Additionally, any cargo or courier carrying a PAL application can be tracked instantly and in real time anywhere in the world.
Any authorized user will have the ability to enter the Ituran web-site and locate the PAL holder onscreen. Within seconds, the location of the PAL holder is shown on the onscreen map. This is an extremely important security feature, enabling the location of the PAL holders as needed by authorized personnel, security companies or family members.
In Israel, the device costs just under $300, with a monthly fee of $12. The price of the device in the US and other countries is $350-$400. A small fee for peace of mind.