Peace of Mind with the KATANA Safety Wallet
Have you ever been in an uncomfortable situation and wish someone could watch over you for a few minutes until you reach your destination? Maybe you’re in a rideshare and feel uncomfortable, you’re having a bad blind date and not sure what might happen, or you’re walking in a dark alley or in a new neighborhood.
Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains links that may earn us a commission from KATANA Safety. We received the KATANA Safety Wallet as part of this review. Opinions and conclusions are our own.
I’ve had all these things happen to me, before and after the proliferation of cell phones and smartphones. When phones were just voice, you could always call someone from the bathroom at the restaurant or bar and ask them to call you back so you could get out of your date, or if you were really smart, you planned ahead so someone could call you to check on you during the evening. But no one would really know your location unless you called 911.
Now most everyone has a smartphone so it’s easy to text or call a friend, a spouse, a parent. But if you feel uncomfortable but not scared enough to call 911, what do you do? And what if your friends aren’t there to get your call or text?
Over the years, the iPhone has greatly improved their emergency features. You can designate an emergency contact, you can make an emergency call without unlocking your phone, and if you push a certain button combination it will automatically call 911 for you. If you have the latest Apple Watch, you can activate a feature that will detect if you’ve fallen and notify your contacts or call 911.
These are all great features if you know how to use them if you have a real emergency. But they are complicated, and if you’re in a panic, you might not remember. I did use it once, by accident – by pushing some combination of buttons on my phone while I was on a bike ride. I was actually trying to turn up the volume on my phone but whatever I did called 911. I hung up and they called back immediately. It was good to know that it worked, but it was kind of embarrassing and I still don’t remember how I actually did it.
Now there’s a device you can add to your phone to help you feel safer, without relying on friends or calling 911 – the KATANA Safety Wallet.
The KATANA Safety Wallet attaches to the back of your phone and works with an app and a 24/7 monitoring service to help keep you safe in different kinds of situations. We first saw KATANA Safety at CES back in 2019 and recently got an opportunity to test it the wallet.
The KATANA Safety Wallet and app are easy to install and set-up. You start by downloading the KATANA Safety App from your favorite app store and create an account, and add your personal details like home address, description of your car, and year of birth. These will be important if and when you trigger an alarm on the device.
After you’ve set your personal details, then you need to add your device. The KATANA Safety Wallet uses Bluetooth to communicate to your phone and it walks you through the process to wake it up and pair it.
Next, you add your contacts to your Circle of Safety. These contacts become your trusted circle of family and friends who will be notified in case of an emergency dispatch. Your circle members will get a nice email from KATANA Safety explaining the service.
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To fully use the KATANA Safety Wallet, you’ll need to sign up for a monitoring plan. You’ll have a choice to sign up for either the basic or the premium plan. Without a plan, the app will still have some basic features but you won’t get access to the 24/7 emergency call center. As of today, basic plans start at $1.99/month and premium is $9.99/month (paid annually).
Once you have set up the app and paired your device, just attach the KATANA Safety Wallet to the back of your phone and you’re ready to go. If you’re like me and you don’t like sticking things to the back of your phone, it will also attach to a case, though some silicone cases may be too slippery so be careful. In addition to the KATANA device, the safety wallet also includes a space for up to three cards, perfect if you don’t like carrying a full wallet with you.
Using the KATANA – Bypassing your Phone’s lock screen
Once you have the Katana app and wallet attached to your phone, you can activate different types of alerts right from the device:
Audible alert: if you have an emergency and you want everyone to know so they can help, you can trigger an audible alert. The easiest way to do this is to pull the red tab out from the bottom of the Katana Safety Wallet. Once activated, the Katana device will beep, starting softly, then get louder. After 7 seconds, if you haven’t cancelled it, it will activate your phone speaker and get even louder. Katana estimates that as many as 66% of emergency situations can be diffused just with the alarm.
Silent alert: Maybe you are scared but don’t want to alert those around you with an audible alarm. In this case, you can use the silent alert feature by pressing the buttons on the side of the Katana wallet. I know a lot of people who are still afraid to use ridesharing apps. While I am generally not afraid, I have had some creepy drivers and I can imagine using the silent alert to get help if I felt I was in danger.
While you can also use these features from the app, you don’t even need to open your phone. When you trigger the audible or silent alert on the device, it bypasses your phone’s lock screen and summons the call center without you having to even turn on your phone. If you are in a really uncomfortable situation, you can keep the cord from the audible alert tab on your wrist, so you can easily yank it out without even taking your phone out of your bag or pocket.
What happens when you trigger an alert?
If you trigger an audible or a silent alert, the KATANA Safety emergency response team will call you. The operator will verify your location, and if necessary, call the local authorities to send help.
If the operator calls twice and can’t reach you, they will contact emergency services and dispatch them to your location so you can get help.
Enlisting your circle for help
If the KATANA emergency services dispatches help, then, and only then, your trusted circle will get immediately notified via text and email, including your location. If you have multiple contacts, the system will start a conference call to connect everyone in so they can work together to get you the help you need.
Walk with Me Feature
All the above features are great if you are in imminent danger, if you’ve had an accident or are being physically threatened. But how many times have you felt uncomfortable but not to the point of calling 911? You have a creepy feeling on the bus or walking home late at night, or you have a business meeting with a stranger in an unfamiliar place. In this type of situation, you can use Walk with Me, a premium feature that’s also the one most used by KATANA’s customers.
To use Walk with Me, open your app and select “Walk with Me.” The KATANA safety operator will call you, confirm your location, and the stay on the line with you as long as you need to until you feel safe. You can use this as often as needed.
I’ve been in this situation many times, and usually I would just call someone on my phone and talk to them while I walk through the dark parking lot or wait for the stranger to meet me. But sometimes my husband or my friends aren’t available to take my call, and if something happened, they wouldn’t really be in a position to help. They’re making me feel better and I’m making them worry about me. I’d much rather call the KATANA operator who will stay on the line and can actually summon help if I need it.
Works with Siri
If you have an iPhone, you can add Siri shortcuts to the KATANA Safety App so you can just ask Siri to get help – using all the same alerts described above. You can customize the shortcuts to whatever you like. Today they work with the iPhone only, but they should also work with the Apple Watch in the near future. I run a lot, and love the idea of being able to say, “Hey Siri, activate KATANA walk with me” without pulling out my phone.
Protecting you without giving up your privacy
The KATANA Safety Wallet and the app need location services always on to work. But your actual location remains private, unless you trigger an alert. The Katana operator will see your location, but your Circle of Safety won’t know exactly where you are unless the operator dispatches emergency services.
Some areas for improvement
The app allows you to contact your Circle of Safety right from the app, via voice or text, and you can also request a call back via text. This seems like it would be a lot more helpful if the app also provided your location. I know you can use other apps and services like “Find My” or Life 360 to do this, but it feels like it would be a lot more helpful if you could do it right here within this app. Otherwise your Circle of Safety will only find out your location if the Katana Safety operator calls emergency services.
I’ve also had some problems with the KATANA Safety Wallet losing its Bluetooth connection. The good news is that for the iPhone, KATANA Safety has a built-in iBeacon fail-safe for the KATANA Safety Wallet, so that if the device temporarily disconnects from Bluetooth, it still works. I tested this a couple of times and it did work, both through the app and through Siri. Technical support is available by phone, via the app and website, and via email, and the technical team is very responsive and helpful.
The KATANA Safety Wallet is a convenient, easy-to-use personal safety device. Since it attaches to the back of your phone, it can always be with you, but it’s great that you don’t have to open your phone to use it.
When I lived in the city and commuted alone much of the time, I would have loved to have a device like this so I could call on someone to walk with me from the train to my apartment or feel safer in a taxi. Today the service is only available in the US, but KATANA Safety is growing rapidly and hopes to expand internationally in the future.
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