Japanese cellphones and mobile devices for seniors are nothing new; in fact it’s a key market among a population that is rapidly aging. Major models from the main carriers include the Raku Raku phone series, which have larger typing keys, and are waterproof in case they get dropped while out in the garden and need a rinse under the water tap.

Now Japanese communications giant KDDI has announced the development of a new handset for elderly people that keeps them safe and in contact with family members far away. The Mi-Look is built by Kyocera Corp set to be released from September, and features a pedometer, GPS and an emergency alarm. Pedometers and other monitoring apps for health-conscious users, silver consumers or otherwise, are now common in many phones. What is special about the simply designed, three-button Mi-Look is the emergency email function, useful for cases where the elderly suffer a fall or injury, or even when faced with an invading burglar.

Similar to the security features on some kids’ phones, just pulling the strap dangling from the phone sends a special email to a pre-set family member. Using GPS you can then identify where the owner of the phone (and sender of the emergency signal) is, and go and help them in their distress.

Pulling the strap also releases a buzzer so if, for example, it was a crime that had prompted the owner to call for aid, the criminal might well flee the scene. Thus it functions somewhat like an alarm too. (Crimes preying on the elderly are also becoming prominent in the media.) And, with the recent catastrophe in March, it is no surprise that the safety of seniors during earthquakes is a concern for many, and the Mi-Look includes an early warning system which hopefully can give the elderly some precious added moments in the case of another major disaster.

The charging dock also features a sensor that can detect and record when someone passes by nearby, also allowing relatives to keep track of the movement of an elderly family member living in a distant part of the country. It is comparable here to lifelogging devices which have also been on the increase in recent years in Japan. Some of these can be worn by the user and send information about their body temperature and heart to another remote user.