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The $40 bracelet that will call for help if you're in danger: Smart jewelry can sense attacks and notify the police without you having to press a button

  • Student has developed wearable technology that aims to prevent sexual assault
  • Jayun Patel designed a bracelet that alerts the police if a wearer is attacked
  • The smart bracelet sends the authorities the wearer's coordinates if this happens
  • Prototype cost just $40 to make, and price would likely drop if mass produced

A University of Alabama master's student has developed an unusual tool to combat sexual assault: a bracelet.

The device monitors wearers' vital signs and can pick up on changes that would signal being under attack.

The smart bracelet, still in the prototype stage, alerts a predetermined list of contacts and the police if it senses that the wearer is being harmed.

Additionally, it emits a loud alarm and is equipped with red strobe lights meant to scare away the attacker or get the attention of others in the vicinity. 

Jayun Patel, a master's student at the University of Alabama, designed a smart bracelet that can alert the authorities if a wearer is attacked. The smart bracelet, still in the prototype stage, alerts a predetermined list of contacts and the police if it senses an emergency situation 

Jayun Patel, a master's student at the University of Alabama, designed a smart bracelet that can alert the authorities if a wearer is attacked. The smart bracelet, still in the prototype stage, alerts a predetermined list of contacts and the police if it senses an emergency situation 

The team behind the bracelet, Associate Professor Dr Ragib Hasan and master's student Jayun Patel, are hopeful that the device can prevent sexual assaults, which are extremely common on college campuses such as theirs.

Dr Hasan explained in a statement that the ability to call the authorities is usually unavailable to assault victims under attack.

He said: 'A major challenge to assault prevention is that, during an assault, victims often to not have an easily accessible way to call for help.

'Whether calling 911 or using an emergency alert app or device, each of these tools requires users to press a button in order to call for help.

'That is often not possible while a violent act is taking place or if a person is unconscious as a result of the assault.'

Dr Hasan directed Patel while she designed the new product, which relies on machine learning and sensors to detect signs of assault.

The bracelet houses an Adafruit Circuit Playground, pressure sensors, GPS capabilities and microphones, among other tools.

The bracelet connects to the wearer's phone via Bluetooth if it detects a physical attack. Then messages are sent to the police and designated friends of the wearer alerting them of the danger

The bracelet connects to the wearer's phone via Bluetooth if it detects a physical attack. Then messages are sent to the police and designated friends of the wearer alerting them of the danger

It can also determine whether a wearer is standing or lying down.

If the device recognizes that a wearer is in danger it connects to their smartphone via Bluetooth and immediately messages emergency personnel and sends them the wearer's location.

Additionally, it alerts friends the wearer has designated by way of an app.

Patel said: 'The sensors allow the bracelet to collect user activity and vital signs continuously.

'A machine learning algorithm detects and differentiates the user's regular movement and unexpected and sudden movements that can be indicative of an assault.'

HOW CAN SMART JEWELRY STAVE OFF A POTENTIAL ATTACK?

A master's student at the University of Alabama developed a bracelet that can help prevent sexual assault.

If the device senses the person wearing it is under attack, it alerts authorities and sends them the coordinates of the wearer.

The smart bracelet, if it were to be mass produced, could address a health issue that affects one-third of women and one-sixth of men in the US, according to the CDC.

University of Alabama master's student Jayun Patel (pictured) designed a bracelet that could help prevent sexual assault

University of Alabama master's student Jayun Patel (pictured) designed a bracelet that could help prevent sexual assault

But the CDC has clarified that these numbers probably do not reflect the severity of the problem given that many victims refrain from reporting sexual assault incidents.

The problem is particularly rampant on college campuses, such as the one where the smart bracelet was designed.

The CDC has reported that 20 percent of undergraduate females experience attempted or completed sexual assault during their college years.

The risk of getting sexually assaulted in college, for women, is highest freshman year, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Females who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely to experience sexual assault in college.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

The bracelet was designed with the intention of creating a device that can detect assault, but it can be applied to other emergency situations.

For example, the engineers said it could potentially be used to alert the authorities if an elderly person falls or to provide a warning if someone with a disability performs a risky movement.

Patel said she wants to expand the technology and create other 'smart' items, such as shoes and earrings, that work to keep people safe.

The wearable devices designed in Dr Hasan's lab are low-cost; the prototype for the bracelet costs less than $40.00.

The researchers are hopeful the price will drop even more if the product is eventually mass produced.

The technology could benefit a large portion of the population: one-third of women and one-sixth of men in the US alone experience sexual violence.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR celebrityrave

Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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