“Safety is a fundamental right and shouldn’t be considered a luxury for women. It is the foundation for achieving gender equality”, said Anu Jain. Anu and Naveen Jain, the entrepreneurs who funded the Women’s Safety XPRIZE competition emphasized on the need of curbing sexual assault.
The competition was intended to evaluate and encourage the endeavors of the developers who are striving to make women feel safer in the country. The real challenge of the competition was to create a device which should cost less than $40, and the message transmission should not take more than 90 sec. Out of the dozens of the team that had entered, five finalists were chosen in April. The winner was Leaf Wearables who was awarded $1M. The winning team designed a Bluetooth accessory; ‘a pendant’ which keeps a wireless connection with the smartphone, and when the emergency button is hit twice, the notification is sent to the emergency contact for the alert.
Similar devices have been designed in the past, but the real challenges were the cost and the device should work in real-time. The devices enrolled for the competition were tested in no-connectivity areas, public transports, basements of the buildings etc. The advantage the team of leaf Wearables had was an added feature of audio recording, to collect evidence for later use or intimidate the harasser who might fear being identified. Also, their chip design and software was easy to integrate with other devices.
It is a great effort by Women’s Safety XPRIZE to bring peoples’ heed to the serious issue and giving a message that women safety is a serious matter. Such devices should be affordable for every woman so that they can wear their pride and safety devices!