Chicago startup Occly’s Blinc protects your most valuable asset

If you’re attending the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week and venture far away from the Las Vegas Strip to one of the sketchier parts of town, you might feel a lot safer if you have Occly’s Blinc body camera alarm system device on you.

Chicago startup Occly is one of about 800 technology startups using CES this week to tout their devices and services at the annual show’s growing Eureka Park Marketplace.

Blinc is a wearable device featuring four built-in cameras that records events happening around the user, within 280 degrees. It has an alarm button that "calls" for help during an emergency situation, its advanced sensors automatically triggering an alarm and transferring audio and video data to the cloud in real-time.

As part of a growing trend, the device uses machine learning technology, a form of artificial intelligence that enables the system to automatically learn from the data it receives.

Push the panic button

“We have combined a body cam and a panic button into one device,” said Paul Green, senior vice president of sales.

In addition to sending out an alert for help, the device will automatically “collect the evidence” — whether there is somebody attacking the user or if there’s an accident, for example.

“While it’s on, it’s always taking pictures of your surroundings, and when you alarm it by hitting the big button” you are sending it into video mode, he said. It connects to a user's smartphone via Bluetooth and sends all the collected data “into the cloud” for storage, he said. 

There’s also an accompanying safety app for Android and iOS mobile devices that “lets you know where you are, what the crime rate is in your area, and if there’s any suspicious activity that you might want to look out for that other Occly users have marked,” Green said.

Blinc shipped in June at $249 and is available direct from Occly’s website, but consumers also have the option to instead lease it at the cost of $29.95 a month.

The device is either worn on one’s body (such as clipped onto a belt), clipped to an accessory so it’s easily accessible when needed, or used as a dashboard camera. Alarm notifications are sent as a text message informing a custom list of recipients of an emergency or to Occly’s 24-hour monitoring center.

There’s also an enterprise version, called Linc, that features a shock resistant cover and will be coming out in about three to four months, Green said. That version will have a “substantially” longer battery life than the nine hours of the consumer model — possibly double that, he said.

A cellular version of the product is in development and is slated for delivery in 2018, according to Occly.

The company was started a couple of years ago by Marc Harris, its managing partner. 

More than 1,100 startups have used Eureka Park at CES to showcase their products to date, and have been funded at more than $1.5 billion since 2012, according to the Consumer Technology Association, which owns and produces CES.