Guard Llama, recently seen on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” is a personal safety device that claims to best calling 911 with faster response time and — something local dispatch can’t do — it knows your location.
Guard Llama is a smartphone app plus key fob, with potential benefits for an endless list of people concerned with their safety, including runners, real estate agents meeting strangers in empty houses and college students walking back to the dorm after a night class.
While we have never tried Guard Llama, the concept sounds logical, innovative and relatively easy to use. Subscribers can pay either $10 a month or $100 for the year. Combining an iPhone or Android app with a Guard Llama compatible keychain can have police dispatched to your location and reduce response time by 80 percent, according to product information.
Instead of unlocking your phone, dialing 911 and trying to talk to a dispatcher during the emergency, Guard Llama co-founders Joe Parisi and Nick Nevare, explained how the device works.
Pressing the device’s button twice will send a Bluetooth signal to the Guard Llama app on your phone and alert Guard Llama’s Emergency Dispatch Center.
Guard Llama will then send your GPS location (within 9 feet) plus your profile, which includes a photo and medical information to the Emergency Dispatch Center. Police can find you up to three times faster than if you dialed 911, according to the startup.
The app will even alert anyone on your friends and family contact list.
One reviewer on YouTube brought up the point of liability.
“It would be a PR nightmare and potentially a legal nightmare if even one of their customers tried to use the product and it fails to work,” YouTuber JeremyJasonA said.
The product already has more than 2,000 customers, but Jeremy said he was concerned about what could happen when the user base grows.
Parisi and Nevare created the discrete way to alert police to a life threatening event in 2015 after the murder of a Northern Illinois University classmate, Toni Keller.
“Adam and I both witnessed two very impactful criminal experiences while in college at NIU which inspired us to develop Guard Llama,” CEO Parisi said. “We realized there was a need for a personal safety device that could solve the shortcomings of cellphone-based 911 help.”
So what’s with the name?
Guard llamas are llamas that basically steal the jobs from guard dogs by chilling out with the flock until danger strikes. Bonded to the sheep and goats, guard llamas need no training to defend the group against predators. They are stealthy like ninjas and cute and adorable as… well, llamas.
Guard Llama’s creators even brought a real llama to their pitch on “Shark Tank.” The llama took care of some business of its own during the meeting, but one shark still bit and invested in the product.
"My brother was in a motorcycle accident and 911 couldn’t find him,” “Shark Tank” investor and real estate mogul Barbara said. “He laid in a ditch for three days before help arrived."