A group of recent college grads in the southern state of Michoacán have crowdfunded a “smart jewelry” startup that aims to protect women from violence.
Geek & Chic is an online retailer that aims to sell bracelets and necklaces with an emergency button that when pressed for three seconds send a SMS or Whatsapp text message to preselected cellphone contacts letting them know their friend is in danger.
Company director David Alvarez told Fusion the jewelry's “panic button” will use bluetooth to connect to a smartphone app that allows users to be tracked via GPS. Now the company wants to expand its prototype product line to sell unisex bracelets to men.
Alvarez says he and his colleagues came up with the idea in college after being robbed at gunpoint multiple times and witnessing a rising wave of kidnappings, extortions and femicides in their hometown of Morelia and the larger state of Michoacán.
“Cops won’t do anything, and we didn’t want to remain with our arms crossed,” he said.
The company's second crowdfunding aims to raise $11,500 to expand into unisex bracelets, keychains and other similar projects. Alvarez says it costs around $30 to produce one of his bracelets, which he hopes to sell for $70. He says 150 bracelets have already been preordered online.
The prototype accessories, marketed as a balance between fashion and technology, can also be plated with gold and silver. “In contrast to other personal self defense methods such as pepper spray and tasers, we believe that our devices can gain wide global acceptance since they aren’t an aggressive mechanism of protection,” reads the crowdsourcing pitch.
In spite of launching a pilot program, the product has yet to be tested by customers. There also appear to be some issues. Alvarez said the bluetooth that connects the jewelry to the smartphone will have a 164-foot range, so if the phone gets dumped or the user is too far away from it, the alarm will not trigger.
Other companies are also cashing in on Mexico’s security problem. The country has become an important market for bullet proof cars and private security firms.
Startups in the U.S. are also coming up with tech solutions to protect women against sexual assault.
It remains to be seen whether the panic-button jewelry catches on in Mexico, but in a country where cops are being outpaced by criminals, some people are willing to give anything a try.