The Telegraph
Friday , September 13 , 2013

Alarm at push of a button

New Delhi, Sept. 12: A university wing has said it has developed the prototype of a miniature safety device that will help women trigger an alarm and send their location at the push of a button.

The Centre had promised such a device eight months ago in the wake of the December 16 gang rape and murder but sources said it was still in “the conceptualisation stage”.

The prototype of the device, estimated to cost less than Rs 1,000, has been made by the Kerala-based Amrita University’s Centre for Cyber Security Systems and Networks.

Measuring 4x4cm with a trigger that is less than a centimetre long, the Amrita Personal Safety System is programmed to send out distress signals along with the location of the wearer. The device is expected to hit the market in a few months.

“The design is flexible and the trigger can be worn by a woman as part of her earring, ring or any jewellery. It will help trigger communication with the family and police, whose numbers would be pre-programmed in the device, when in distress. The device will remain out of sight of the offender and can easily be triggered,” said Krishnashree Achuthan, the director of the Kollam-based Amrita Centre for Cyber Security Systems and Networks.

Achuthan and her team of senior researchers have been working on the device for the past year. “The concept of the device was formed after we realised that a number of women in India do not have access to high-end phones and they needed something easily accessible in emergencies. The cost could well come down if we are supported by the government,” said Achuthan, whose team holds 30 patents.

The device, which can record conversations, can transmit messages by the push of a button or through text-messaging or voice calls. It offers information on the nearest police station, hospitals and fire stations. The centre is planning to video-enable the device to record events.

“Many of these features may be available in some phones. But in most cases, an assailant takes away the victim’s phone. Also, in an emergency, a trigger alarm is more convenient than dialling a number. This device is so unobtrusive that in any situation it will be easy to activate the alarm,” said Achuthan, adding that the team is also working on a system by which a woman’s heart beat and pulse rate could send signals of distress.

She said the device could function in rural areas and it has location-aware technology. Thus, it can function indoors and outdoors with minimal power consumption.

The prototype will be launched on September 27.

The Union telecom ministry is developing a wristwatch-cum-safety device. Sources in C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing), which is developing the watch, said it was too early to comment on the progress of the project. The government had said in January that the watch could be available in a few months for Rs 500.