Wearable Tech

Meet the Wearable That Could Save Your Life If You're Being Attacked

Meet the Wearable That Could Save Your Life If You're Being Attacked
Image credit: First Sign
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Sometimes the mind wanders to dark places when you’re in a deeply isolated area where no one would hear you if you screamed for help. Rachel Emanuele’s mind did just that, turning over hair-raising worst-case scenarios while she jogged solo along a rugged stretch of remote mountainous terrain near her Arizona home, as she often does.

What if the 28-year-old expectant mom were the victim of a violent attack? God forbid something should happen to her on one of her runs, how would she get help? Naturally, she expressed her anxiety over the possibility to her husband, Arthur “AJ” Emanuele, 30, also an avid runner. Rachel didn’t want to let the fear stop her from running her favorite paths, and neither did AJ. So, together, the couple launched a startup called First Sign and invented a device that they claim could save lives in the event of an assault.

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“Even if you’re in a great part of town, there’s always some part of a run or a walk that’s a little sketchy if you’re alone,” AJ Emanuele says.  “That’s why we decided to design a wearable that would automatically trigger a loud alarm and call for help, hands-free, a violent attack or a sexual assault. That way the user doesn’t have to do anything but enjoy their run or other activity and they’re still protected.”

The wearable the couple created and recently launched is called the First Sign Mace Wear Pod. Embedded with an accelerometer, the sensor-laden Bluetooth device works with the wearer’s smartphone to sound an alarm “at the first sign of violent movement, forces that are associated with an injury.”

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It also alerts a First Sign professional security agent, who can then contact local authorities in addition to emergency contacts you've entered into the Mace Wear Pod's accompanying app. (The agent decides whether contacts need to be notified.)  

The pod itself -- a discreet, lightweight round plastic disc about the size of a watch face -- is the evolution of an earlier “smart” hairclip device that AJ and Rachel successfully launched on Indiegogo just shy of a year ago and marketed to women. “There was such a great demand for it that we decided to expand our offering to everyone, male and female,” AJ said.

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Emanuele said the device doesn’t just sound what could be a potentially life-saving alarm when you need it most. It also acts as an evidence collection tool after an alarm is triggered, which could potentially help identify and prosecute attackers. Following an alarm, the app automatically records your location, drawing from your phone’s GPS and network-based geolocation data. The user can also log notes about an incident, like a description of an attacker or other key pieces of identifying information, for example.  

The pod and app cover users anywhere in the U.S. with a cell signal, given that the user’s smartphone has a data and voice plan. If you accidentally trigger an alarm, you can quickly reverse it in a couple of quick swipes.  

The app that pairs with the pod is free and available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play. The pod costs $60 and comes with a wristband that you can place it in and with a pendant/keychain that it slips into. The round-the-clock First Sign monitoring service is required and costs $60 per year, paid up front in a single payment or $5 per month.

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First Sign also sells a belt clip ($15) and a headband ($10) so you can wear the pod however you want. “[The pod] can detect head impact if it’s worn on the head,” AJ said. “If you wear it on your wrist, it can automatically detect a block or a return strike, and it has a fall sensor that can detect a hard fall.”

If you’re thinking of getting your own Mace Wear Pod for your next run (or walk alone to your car in a parking garage at night), you can buy one through First Sign’s online shop. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, there’s no actual mace in the pod itself, nor in any of its accessories.

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Edition: December 2016

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