image

Technology

Smart bra device that sends signal to police when woman is attacked, and the Singaporean scientist behind it

Device contains two sets of sensors which can detect a sudden surge in heart rate and the exertion of force on a bra. It sends out a message to police, and other people preset by the user, when she is being attacked

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 10:45am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 10:54am

The sexual assault and murder of a 21-year-old woman in northern China by the driver of a car she booked using ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing shocked women across the country. The murder took place in the capital of Henan province, Zhengzhou, in May.

For women who feel vulnerable to attack, a new invention by Singaporean data scientist Scott Fan could be a godsend.

Why your smartwatch could save your life. This man will tell you

His prototype Smart Bra technology sends a signal to police when a woman is being attacked. The device is fitted with two sets of sensors that can detect a sudden increase in heart rate and pressure exerted externally on its wearer.

Fan says he wants to make use of the so-called internet of things (IoT) – which connects everyday devices such as fridges and lights to the internet – to enhance protection for women.

“I have seen a lot of IoT industrial applications, but there are none for personal care equipment. There’s big market demand in this area, specifically in [the area of] women’s protection,” he says.

The United Nations has flagged the lack of devices available to protect women against sexual abuse and other violent acts, he notes.

When a woman wearing Fan’s Smart Bra device is attacked, it sends a signal to a police station and to other individuals the wearer has chosen in advance to receive notifications.

“When somebody grabs or pushes you, and there’s external force, the sudden surge in your heart rate will confirm an attack and an alarm will be sent out,” Fan says.

Can a false alarm be sent if the user is in other situations, for example when on a theme park ride such as a roller coaster? Fan says: “To trigger the alarm, there has to be very close body contact and force, like when somebody tries to hold you or force you into a position.”

India report highlights culture of impunity around sexual assault

Smartwatches and other wearable devices on the market can trigger such alarms, but Fan says his Smart Bra will be more effective because the attacker won’t know his victim is wearing it.

“Many bad people [nowadays] know you have smart devices on you. When they try to attack a woman, they will try to search for them and take them off. My device is hard to reach and [hidden from view].”

Fan says the device can be attached to any bra. “The sensors are very small and will not cause the wearer any discomfort,” he says.

He is the founder of Smart IoT, a Singaporean company that provides hi-tech industrial and consumer solutions. Besides the Smart Bra, the company’s inventions include a smart helmet to enhance occupational safety, and IoT-fitted wind power generation equipment.

Seven essentials to safe, fun travel for the single woman

Fan says he has completed a prototype of the Smart Bra and is conducting tests to refine the product.

“IoT is becoming a big trend. Everything now is about communication with data and your mobile phone.

“We are also looking for public feedback. We plan to launch it in Hong Kong and China, Southeast Asia, India and Africa, where there are more powerless women.”