Statistics show that nearly 1 in every 5 women are the victims of violence some point in their lifetime. Many of these confrontations happen near friends and family but happen so fast that there’s rarely time to contact help. Panic buttons have served as personal emergency alert systems for many years, allowing the elderly to maintain their independence or providing peace of mind to people with potentially dangerous medical conditions.
But today’s connected technologies are making it possible for a new generation of innovative safety devices that better fit into our day-to-day lives. invisaWear is pioneering stylish, discreet jewelry and other practical accessories that integrate into a user’s lifestyle and brings subtle, fast access to emergency assistance.
To create a Bluetooth-enabled safety device with a small enough form factor and a long enough battery life to fit into a person’s day-to-day life, so they’re more likely to have it during an emergency.
App-compatible smart jewelry that can alert pre-selected emergency contacts, including local police, that the wearer needs help.
Bluetooth low-energy technology, extremely small form factor, easy app compatibility.
The Defining Moment
The idea for invisaWear, started with a scary and all-too-common experience. When walking to her vehicle after an event, Rajia Abdelaziz was pursued by a car full of men—shouting inappropriate comments. While she was able to get to her vehicle physically unharmed, Rajia was rattled. Even with her phone in her purse and friends lingering at the event close by, she didn’t feel like she had a split second to call for help. In that moment, Rajia realized how important it was to protect herself and her loved ones.
Rajia described the experience to her then classmate, Ray Hamilton, and together they started prototyping an innovative, low-profile safety device as part of a school project. Ray used his hardware background to focus on Bluetooth solutions and Rajia leveraged her software background to develop an accompanying app.
Designing a Low-Power, Ready-to-Wear Smart Jewelry Safety Solution
Today, invisaWear takes the form of necklaces, bracelets, and beyond. When a wearer needs help, they double click the back of the charm on their invisaWear jewelry, and that instantly sends a signal to a preprogrammed app on their smartphone that deploys a text to five emergency contacts—friends, family, police, etc.—with an option to enable ADT. For ADT-enabled wearers, a double click sends a signal to ADT, allowing them to notify the police and offer location data on the wearer’s behalf. In that case, the app also texts emergency contacts to let them know that local police were notified of the wearer’s call for help.
Shrinking Form Factor Without Compromising on Power Requirements
Early prototypes were designed to demonstrate technological feasibility, so it was difficult to convince professors and potential investors that the technology would be small enough to fit into a stylish necklace one day.
Once they decided they wanted to bring their product to market, Rajia and Ray got serious about sourcing. While off-the-shelf solutions served them well in the development phase, they weren’t suitable for the size constraints they were working with for a market-ready product. Size and power were primary concerns for potential wearers, so they became primary constraints for invisaWear. Rajia and Ray kept hearing, “If the device wasn’t on my person and wasn’t charged, would it actually help me?”
“They said the number one thing they cared about was making it as small as possible. Otherwise, they just wouldn’t even wear it. So, that was eye-opening for us,” said Ray.
In connecting with Arrow Electronics, invisaWear found an advocate in helping source suppliers and narrow its bill of materials in the transition from prototype to a market-ready solution.
After talks with several different vendors for Bluetooth low-energy devices, Rajia and Ray connected with Silicon Labs. This led to selecting the BGM12x series, the world’s smallest, fully certified Bluetooth SiP module, for invisaWear’s design. The ultra-small size, reliable high-performance RF, low-power consumption, full modular certification, and easy application development were a perfect fit. While there were plenty of similar safety devices on the market, Rajia and Ray felt that those products lacked the right combination of features that invisaWear had—small size, best-in-class low-power management, and attractive designs.
Utilizing the BGM11S across its selection of products, Rajia and Ray also took advantage of Silicon Labs’ preprogramming feature to avoid adding a programming header during their builds, which would have increased board space and product size.
“The BGM11S was the most reliable out of any of the ones that we were looking at on the market. It had the best technical documentation, it had the best technical support, and we haven’t had to make any firmware updates since we released the product—which is amazing. We’re so grateful for that,” said Ray. “We’ve made many software updates to the app, but the hardware always works perfectly.”
The breadth of applications invisaWear’s devices apply to are practically limitless. From students walking across campus to rideshare passengers and drivers, these Bluetooth safety devices can provide fast, effective help in situations where time and discretion are critical.
What’s Next for invisaWear?
invisaWear still consults with Silicon Labs to understand how different metals and materials might impact device functionality as they release new designs. The team continues to build relationships with brands and designers to release new product lines, most recently, releasing a fitness line designed for runners.