An Arizona-based startup First Sign Technologies is about to unveil a smart hair pin with automatic security system that alerts authorities when the wearer is under assault or in trouble.
The First Sign Hair Clip, measuring 12 x 40 x 4 mm (0.5 x 1.75 x 0.15 in), looks like any other typical hair clip but do not be deceived by its looks. This nondescript hair pin is laden with a gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, Bluetooth, microphone, manual alarm trigger, micro-USB charger and a lithium-polymer battery, which together may someday protect your life against a violent crime.
It may be hard to believe that a simple hair clip can save your life but that’s exactly what this ‘smartpin’ does. First Sign Technologies’ smart hair clip with a mobile application can detect impacts like slaps, kicks, punches or shakes and will automatically trigger an alarm while collecting evidence at the first sign of emergency which may later be used as evidence.
According to World Health Organization’s report, globally 35% of women have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. While self-defense classes, pepper sprays and firearms are some options, they are incomplete and unrealistic solutions. Further, if the perpetrator is already known or attacks by surprise, value of many of these solutions becomes uncertain.
On the other hand, First Sign Hair Clip not only sends a distress signal to authorities when under attack but also gathers valuable evidence from the phone’s camera and microphone which will be valuable later to bring the attacker to justice.
“If an assault does occur, data collected by the smartpin would be valuable to first responders, investigators, and ultimately, in the courtroom if a suspect is arrested,” said Arthur Emanuele, Co-Founder of the First Sign Technologies. “The hairclip and mobile app are designed to identify, deter, apprehend and prosecute the attacker.”
The hair clip is worn in the hair or on clothes close enough to accurately measure impacts. When under assault, the accelerometer and gyroscope detect the impacts and the wearer will have 15 seconds to deactivate in case it is a false alarm. The app has an automatic ‘Runner’s Mode’ to prevent false alarms when the wearer is jogging or running.
"False alarms will be rare. Our team of engineers is working very hard and carefully to ensure the algorithm of the hair clip will know the difference between most common forces in everyday life and those during an emergency situation," says Rachel Emanuele, Co-Founder and Arthur’s wife, who first thought of the concept.
If the alarm is not deactivated, the app then sends the collected data to a central monitoring service and to deter the perpetrator a programmed voice will shout, “Help is on the way and evidence collected.” Professional security monitors will review the event in real-time.
The First Sign app will use Bluetooth to access the phone’s GPS, camera and microphone to gather evidence, wearer’s location, level of impact, pictures taken intermittently from the camera, audio recorded via microphone and other details and alerts the emergency contacts and first responders.
Rachel said the idea came after she got home one night and felt uneasy. “It was one of those feelings that I got home late at night, and Arthur wasn’t home yet, (and) the dogs were strangely quiet,” she said. “I was talking to him, and I said, ‘Instead of an alarm system, it would be nice to have one for my own security. Nothing about the property, just me.”
“A lot of people create solutions and then try to find a problem,” Arthur said. “We did the opposite. We went to the data and said, ‘What’s the problem in reality and how can we solve that?’ We let the statistics drive the product.”
After going through an 80-page research report, Rachel said she discovered shocking statistics. “One in every three women is assaulted some time in their lifetime. For violent crimes, single women are the most at-risk group. The design involves a hair clip because many violent crimes involve strikes to the head,” she said.
The company plans to roll out the hair clips from November 2014 in the US but for now it can be preordered on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. “The security oriented wearables market is a pretty new one. And First Sign is more than just a hairclip. The process of it goes well beyond the hardware. We believe we’re the first company to go after this,” Arthur Emaneule said.
This smart hair clip will definitely be a great companion for women when exercising alone, while travelling or driving alone, for elderly parents or anytime one might feel unsafe in a specific environment.