SEATTLE — According to the World Health Organization, approximately one in three women have been victims of a violent crime such as sexual assault. Seventy-one percent of all victims accounted for in relation to human trafficking have been identified as female. The World Bank reports that deaths related to violence against women and girls were caused by someone the victim knew about 38 percent of the time. It has also been reported that 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation.
High Rates of Violence Against Women in India Lead Engineers to Take Action
Violent crime against women is a major problem all over the world, but in India, especially the capital city of Delhi, the numbers are especially frightening. In Delhi, 92 percent of women have been victims of a violent crime. To solve this problem, Leaf Wearables was born. Leaf Wearables is a startup created by a couple of bright individuals with a mission: to make violence against women and girls a concern of the past.
Leaf Wearables got its start in 2014, when five engineers decided to invent tracking technology that could be implanted into a pendant, called Safer. The initial idea was that if a woman had this pendant in their possession and found themselves in danger, they would press it twice and it would transmit information through an app or an SMS in the form of an SOS alert to an emergency contact’s phone. The app was then expanded to include features such as GPS tracking of movements and an easily accessible map of nearby hospitals and police stations. At launch, the pendant cost between $52 to $74 and took 15 minutes to charge.
Leaf Wearables’ Safer Pro Wins Awards for Its Effectiveness and Accessibility
After its initial successful launch, the Leaf Wearables team of engineers went back to the drawing board and started to develop the Safer Pro. This is a step up from the original in that it is now in the form of a wristwatch with a longer battery life. It now costs only about $36 and includes a wide range of capabilities. For example, the creators have implemented a call function as well as an audio recording feature that could be used as evidence if needed. Safer Pro does not require the use of a smartphone, as the company has implemented Low Energy GSM technology for greater efficiency and usability. The Safer Pro can transmit emergency signals on its own, making it accessible to women who do not have a smartphone.
As a result of these improvements, this small company won the grand prize at the XPRIZE Competition for Women’s Safety in June 2018, which awarded Leaf Wearables $1 million to make even more advancements in its products. Anu Jain, co-founder of XPRIZE, has commented that without safety, gender equality cannot be achieved, which hinders human advancement. The members of Leaf Wearables anticipate that through this problem-specific technology like the Safer Pro, they will be able to not only provide immediate relief but also bring awareness to the issue. Through this, they hope that mindsets will be changed and more women will be able to walk the streets safely in the future.
– Stephanie Singh