Thales shows watch app for plainclothes cops at French security show

The app provides a discreet way to keep tabs on team members or call for help

Thales 6W4U app

The Thales 6W4U (Six Watch For You) smartwatch app, shown at the Milipol exhibition near Paris on Nov. 16, 2015, displays the location of nearby team members

Credit: Peter Sayer

French defense contractor Thales Communications & Security wants to take the smart watch back to its "Dick Tracy" origins with an app for police officers and security forces.

The "6W4U" (Six Watch For You) is a standard smartwatch running a special app for plainclothes cops.

It displays a discreet watch face most of the time, but swipe it and you'll see a grid of photos of your team, yourself at the center. Another swipe shows you a map of area around you, with dots indicating the position of your team members. A companion web app back at headquarters also monitors the position and status of each 6W4U watch wearer.

Unlike the fictional Dick Tracy's watch, there is no two-way voice or video communication.

On the other hand, the 6W4U app can be used to send a call for assistance. In this case, a message flashes up on the monitoring screen back at base, and also sends a vibrating alert to other members of the team. If they are able to respond to the alert, they can tap to say they're on their way.

Pictures taken with the watch can also be sent discreetly back to staff at base to keep them informed.

Thales used commodity hardware rather than make its own watch because that best suits the watch's "plainclothes" purpose, said spokeswoman Elodie Roche.

For now, the app is running on the Gear 2 from Samsung Electronics, which runs that company's Tizen operating system, but it could equally be ported to Android Wear or Apple's watchOS, Roche said.

Thales isn't ready to sell the watch yet -- but it did register the trademark 6W4U last month.

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