In an effort to help college students stay safe the company ROBOCOPP has created the "Sound Grenade," a personal alarm used to scare off possible criminals and attackers from hurting students.
The Sound Grenade is a small device made to look like a robot which sounds an alarm when the top is pulled off. The device is shaped like a USB drive and can be put on a keychain or kept in a pocket. Advertised as the "world's smallest SOS alarm" It is very light, weighing less than an ounce.
Sam Manson, CEO of ROBOCOPP, was inspired to create the Oakland, California-based company in 2015 when looking for new ways to make his sister safer on campus. He wanted to create a tool which will scare off an attacker in a non-violent way without having to confront them and get hurt in the process. Pepper spray, a traditional method of scaring off an attacker, engages the student in the attack.
According to the International Institute of Criminology, 68 percent of criminals would flee a crime scene empty handed as soon as they hear an alarm.
Jill Turner, marketing director for ROBOCOPP, said that the research inspired the company to move forward with their idea. She said that students don’t want to carry something with extra bulk. With the device priced at $15.99 the portability and affordability separates the device from other personal alarms.
“We have never seen a safety device that students actually liked until we created ours. Other alarms are either really flimsy or bulky," Turner said. "Ours is water resistant and the smallest personal alarm in the world."
Turner said that a big plus for the device is it would alert others around the student that someone is in danger.
“Colleges have a great sense of community. This device would be like an SOS call because it’s so loud," she said. "If other students hear a loud noise they are going to check to see if everything is alright."
Turner was first inspired to join the company as its marketing director because she saw a great need for it, especially with college students walking to classes at night and crime on campus.
“I couldn’t believe that something like this didn’t exist. We have cell phones, GPS, emergency services, we have all of this technology," she said. "Why don’t we have one simple device that would give you help when you need it?"
The Sound Grenade is on 100 college campuses around the country. Despite the fact that the device is not in Eastern Michigan University’s bookstore yet, Turner said that students can purchase the device online through ROBOCOPP’s website and pre-order it on Kickstarter.
The company also developed a device that notifies the police when someone is in danger. The ROBORanger sends an SOS to the police when the pin is pulled. It tracks the user's location only when activated and sends a cellular signal. When the police receive the signal they immediately send someone to the user's location.
Turner said that increasing cell reception in the last two years encouraged the company to create the product. They are getting an exact GPS coordinate so they can track the user in real time.
In addition to their campus safety products, ROBOCOPP’s Campus Safety Workshop teaches students how to stay safe in dangerous situations. The workshop goes to different college campuses and trains people in self-awareness. Turner said that it’s important to know what attackers look for in a target.
“If someone is going to target you, they look for any sign of weakness. A weak posture or walking alone can both be things that might motivate an attacker," she said. "If you look assertive you can prevent that. You become less of a target if you can put up a fight."