You know what's missing from my mobile phone? A panic button

As I pondered weak and weary, over many a quaint cell phone or two, I realized that there's something missing: a panic button. And then I asked the most dangerous question of all: Why?
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

Yesterday during lunch, my youngest son* (The Ginger Avenger), and I sat munching away at our newly purchased Whataburgers, watching some dude named Bear Grylls try to teach people how to deal with physical attacks, when I had a brainstorm.

I told Walker that, back in the old days before the ever-present annoyance of cell phones in everyone's paws, these types of scenarios were far more prevalent. These days everyone has a cell phone and there's always someone around videoing** whatever's going on around him. I told him too that though people who use cell phones continuously, without looking up, annoy the <explitive deleted> out of me, they do have their advantages.

One advantage is that now you can keep track of friends and family at amusement parks. You don't know how many hours I have spent wandering around Six Flags Over Texas or the State Fair of Texas looking for people. I remember wishing way back then that we had those Star Trek communicators so we could talk to each other or have the Enterprise locate one another for us.

And then it dawned on me that what we need on our cell phones is a panic button. It's the most obvious thing in the world, yet it's conspicuously missing. Isn't that strange? Surely I'm not the first person to ever think of this. Or am I?

My son and I both laughed because it is a great idea. Plus, I knew what the topic of my next ZDNet rant...er...post was going to be: the missing panic button.

Why don't cell phones have panic buttons?

It could be as simple as an extra button on the phone that when pressed and held it dials 911, 999, or 0118 999 881 999 119 725 3 to alert emergency services that you're in some sort of trouble. Your GPS coordinates would tell emergency responders your approximate location. 

No, don't say that there's an app for that. An app is no better than opening your phone and dialing emergency services. And in some cases, you don't want to risk talking to someone who'll probably say, "Please speak up, I can barely hear you", when you obviously need to be silent. Maybe I've watched too many horror movies but I think you get the point.

And the marketing sweep for the new panic button could be cool too, with someone like, "Be bold. Press and hold."

Yes, I really do sit around thinking about these kinds of things. Someone has to.

But what's more intriguing than thinking about a panic button and associated advertising jingles is to ponder who'll bring it to market first. If there were ten phones available and only one out of the ten had the panic button, I know that a lot of people (almost everyone) would buy the panic button equipped one. It's a reasonable choice. It's one I'd make for sure.

Additionally, I'd be willing to pay a few dollars extra per month for the service. That's how much I think we need the capability. And I think that the 'press and hold' button is a good idea because you couldn't accidentally press and hold it plus it's human nature to want to grip something during emergencies. So, ergonomically speaking, it's a great idea. But the design of the physical button needs to be something that feels different and looks different than other phone buttons, so I'm kind of leaning toward an "outie" version of the iPhone Home button.

There's no other button on any phone like that. It also needs to be of sufficient size, like the Home button, to be easy to find by touch or by sight.

The only problem I can see with the idea of the panic button is how I can make money from coming up with the idea. I guess I don't have to make money off of every idea I have but just a little bump from one of them would make me happy. I'm not greedy.

So I'll leave you with this final thought on the subject: Don't panic, but when you panic, hit the panic button on your cell phone—should one ever exist.

What do you think of my idea for a panic button? Do you want one? Would you buy a phone with a panic button or opt for one without, even if the prices are the same? Talk back and tell me your thoughts.

*He was home from school because of Fall Break not hooky.

**Videoing, that is, instead of helping the victim. I guess that YouTube viral fame is more important than another person's well-being.

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