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Wearable “panic button“ wins $1million prize for women's safety

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Emily Reynolds
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The simple, wearable SAFER pendant has won the coveted XPrize for Women’s Safety – worth $1 million. 

A wearable pendant that allows women to push a ‘panic button’ when they feel unsafe has won a $1m prize for women’s safety.

The SAFER smart jewellery collection allows users to connect via Bluetooth to their phone; when the panic button is activated, a set of emergency contacts are sent an emergency alert with a location and a request for help.

When activated, the jewellery also starts to record audio.

The XPrize challenge was to create a device that could “autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert while transmitting information to a network of community responders, all within 90 seconds” – and at a cost of under $40 (£30) to consumers.

Founder Anu Jain has stressed the importance of the competition, describing safety as a “fundamental human right” that “should not be considered a luxury for women”, and pointing out that almost four billion people across the globe lack access to centralised emergency response systems. 

The Leaf Technology team first started work on their smart jewellery range in 2015, creating a smart pendant that sent emergency alerts to trusted contacts. When the product launched in 2016, it became one of the best selling pieces of wearable technology in India. 

The team say that the SAFER PRO, the eventual winner of the XPrize, “incorporates learnings from previous versions… in terms of robust communication, precise location accuracy and audio streaming”. 

“Winning XPrize is a great step in our mission to make this world a safer place,” said co-founder Avinash Bansal in a statement. “We will now have the support of global tech influencers and the close knit community of XPrize.

“The problem of women’s safety exists all over the world, and being situated in New Delhi we know the problem in and out. We are hoping that with XPrize credibility, India will be looked as a hub of innovation and where technology companies don’t only build product but thrive.”

An example of Leaf Technology’s wearable tech

“These devices were tested in many conditions by the judges to ensure that they will work in real-life cases where women face dangers today. They were tested in no-connectivity areas, on public transit, in basements of buildings, among other environments,” Jain told technology website TechCrunch

“Having the capability to record audio after sending the alert was one of the main differentiators for Leaf Wearables. Their chip design and software was also easy to be integrated into other accessories.

“Prices will come down as the sensor prices drop. In many countries it will require community support to be built. These technologies can act as a deterrent but in the long term culture of violence again women must change.”

Image: Corrine Kutz/Unsplash