In an increasingly connected world, we’re becoming reliant on IoT in almost every aspect of our daily lives. But IoT devices aren’t just convenient – they could be lifesavers.
The personal safety and security devices industry has boomed in recent years and is currently worth around USD 3.2 billion. Thanks to the rise in tech products on the market such as personal alarms for women, wearables, GPS trackers and smart home security, it’s predicted to reach USD 5.5 billion by 2027.
While global demand comes primarily from the US and Western Europe, this highly competitive market offers exciting opportunities for talent and startups based in Dubai, a leading hub in tech innovation.
Here’s a look at the top trends in the personal safety and security market today, and the main drivers influencing growth in the UAE.
Advances in digital technology combined with personal safety concerns has led to a surge in global sales of smart wearables, especially for women. Watches, jewellery and even hair accessories are equipped with smart features that can send out an SOS alert if the wearer finds themselves in a dangerous situation.
Medical wearables, especially, are gaining momentum in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia holding 26% of the market share in the MEA region. Thanks to advances in sensor technologies and the increasing adoption of user-friendly devices, the regional market, currently worth USD 389 million, is predicted to reach almost USD 897 million by 2027.
After a rocky start back in 2016, the popularity of the Apple Watch has soared in recent years, taking the top spot in the global wearables space with a 55% market share of the smartwatch market in 2020. After suffering a fall in demand due to poor user experience, Apple redefined its smartwatch purpose, and began to focus more on health and fitness features rather than marketing it as a desirable fashion item.
Recent versions of the Apple Watch offer some pretty high-tech health features such as ECG-quality heart monitoring and blood oxygen monitoring. Series 5 and onwards also feature the following medical alert functions:
International SOS – thanks to LTE connectivity, the Apple Watch can call the local emergency services of a country you’re visiting, just as it would at home.
Fall detection – if you take a hard fall while wearing the Apple Watch, it will tap you on the wrist, and display an alert asking if you’re OK. If you’re knocked unconscious, and it doesn’t receive a response from you in around a minute, it will automatically contact emergency services for you.
Invisawear specialises in creating SOS safety devices disguised as everyday accessories. The stylish, discreet wearables work with a smartphone app and feature emergency alerts and location trackers. The US-based startup was founded in 2016 by CEO Rajia Abdelaziz, after personally experiencing a frightening incident when she was harassed by a group of men while walking home one night.
Abdelaziz attributes the company’s success to initial accelerator programmes and her own philosophy of paying attention to customer feedback.
The Invisawear range includes necklaces, bracelets, wristbands, key fobs and even hair scrunchies. These stylish accessories are equipped with a panic button which can text pre-selected emergency contacts, share the wearer’s location or call 9-1-1 directly.
US SaaS company Jiobit specialises in location monitors designed for children, pets, seniors, and people with disabilities. Much like Invisawear, Jiobit’s conception was motivated by personal experience when founder and CEO John Renaldi lost track of his young son in a crowded Chicago park.
Disappointed with the poorly designed, bulky trackers on the market, the ex-Motorola executive put together a team of talented tech engineers to create a better model with his son’s safety in mind. The result was the Jiobit Smart Tag, the smallest, longest lasting location device for kids.
Using GPS technology, the award-winning location tab pairs with a Jiobit Guardian App, so parents can receive real-time information about their child’s location. Stand-out features include:
Size – the tiny, lightweight device is about the size of an Oreo cookie and can be attached to waistbands, shoes, buttonholes, and pet collars.
Battery life – up to seven days.
Learning technology – can remember a child’s routine and usual routes and will send an alert to parents if they go somewhere they shouldn’t or don’t turn up where they need to be.
Secure – data is protected by multiple layers of government-level encryption and cutting-edge user authentication technology.
Smart home security
Thanks to its tech-savvy population and smart city status, demand for IoT-connected home devices is constantly growing in Dubai. The security segment of the smart home market in the Middle East, currently worth USD 8 million, is forecast to reach USD 13 million by 2026.
Google Nest Cam
A top-seller in the DIY home security market, Google’s battery-powered Nest Cam is a versatile security camera that can be used both indoors and outdoors. Using HDR technology the 1080p video records when motion is detected and will send alerts directly to the Google Home app on your smartphone. The intelligent alerts feature can even tell the difference between people, animals, and vehicles, so you can tailor alerts to suit your needs.
Hassantuk for Homes
Since 2018, thousands of households under the UAE social security scheme have benefitted from a government backed, state-of-the-art fire alarm system. The Ministry of Interior teamed up with UAE telecommunications service providers, Etisalat, to create ‘Hassantuk for Homes’, a smart and innovative command & control system that’s fully integrated with the Civil Defence to ensure the fastest response to fire-related incidents.
Using advanced AI technology, the fully automated, cutting-edge wireless system provides 24/7 detection, monitoring and reporting fire hazards in connected residential and commercial properties. Etisalat’s end-to-end fire solution ensures the fastest response, greatly reducing the numbers of fire-related deaths and injuries in UAE homes and businesses.
Market drivers for Middle East growth
For now, the US continues to dominate the market for smart personal safety and security devices. However, there are several drivers that could impact the market growth rate in the Middle East region over the coming years. These include:
Increased consumer awareness – both in terms of personal security, and the growing use of smart technology by a younger, tech-savvy UAE population.
Smart Cities – government initiatives, innovative planning and heavy investments in reliable technology, high-speed connectivity and cybersecurity create an ideal infrastructure for the evolution of smart security in the UAE.
Smart wearables investment – increasing investment in smart wearable technology and a growing demand for smart devices with advanced features are set to drive the growth of the smart wearables market in the GCC region.
Future construction – as new homes are built, smart tech systems including security solutions will become the norm in construction planning and design.
As innovative, more advanced technologies emerge, the personal safety and security space will continue to evolve. With its vast pool of tech talent, accelerator programmes and access to investor funding, the UAE offers a fantastic ecosystem for startups looking for opportunities to enter this exciting and competitive market.