This pepper spray will ring your friends as you crush attackers • TechCrunch

This pepper spray will ring your friends as you crush attackers • TechCrunch

This pepper spray will ring your friends as you crush attackers • TechCrunch

From the “I’m not sure it’s a good idea” desk at CES in Las Vegas comes 444. The startup is planning to combine pepper spray with electronics in the early stages so friends of a potential attack victim can be notified when We had to apply a defensive spray to get out out of trouble. The company is the brainchild of Logan Nash and Matt Rogan, who met at the University of Michigan and started developing the technology nine months ago.

“We named the company 444 because our target market is female students aged 18 to 24. Angel numbers are a very popular trend these days. A 444 is an angel number that stands for protection,” Logan says in an interview with TechCrunch. “We’re a self-defense company, so the name fits very well with our company and our self-defense mission.”

The company is at a very early stage of development; the prototype he showed at CES was a 3D printed prototype and an early PCB prototype – so far more proof of concept than actual product. The ultimate plan is to include a pepper spray spray and a Bluetooth transmitter that connects to your phone. If the pepper spray is fired, the device sends a signal to the potential victim’s phone, which then sends a message along with the current location to several pre-defined phone numbers.

A spicy getaway

“I see all these women carrying pepper spray. They are usually large, pink and bulky. They’re just pieces of plastic that just end up in your backpack or purse. In times of emergency, they can’t do it in time,” says Logan, explaining that they designed a clip that makes it easy to carry it in an accessible place. “The clip attaches directly to the wearer, whether it’s a sports bra if you’re going for a run or a belt if you’re just walking around campus. So no matter what, it’s at your fingertips, and you don’t have to fumble around to find yourself in danger. When they activate their device, not only will they have six to nine seconds of spray time, but their current location will also be sent to up to 10 contacts of their choice via an app installed on their phone.

The company believes this second line of defense – texting contacts – is very important and says it interviews customers to back it up. The target price for the device is around $35 per unit. That’s a lot cheaper than, say, trendy Flare bracelets, but a lot more expensive than the $7 Amazon charges for the big, pink, and bulky pepper sprays the company replaces.

Is it defensible?

We were a little curious about the two men at the helm of a company aimed at women, but the founder says he sees no conflict.

“INWe went through a program called iCOR at the University of Michigan that lasted three to four months. Each of us interviewed about 15 of our target audience each week and asked them what they liked and what they didn’t, why they use self-defense, why they don’t use self-defense,” says Logan, dismissing the question of whether adding a woman or two to the founding team would make a difference. meaning. “We asked them if they were looking at their current location and if they were tracking each other, things like that. Our company and product have been shaped by this work of discovering customers.”

Far be it from discouraging a few young entrepreneurs from following their dreams, but given that smartphones are starting to have more and more sophisticated emergency response measures built into them, I wonder if there really is room for this product in the market – doubly so given that there are no it can communicate with emergency services or friends on its own, but must be connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone.

As a 6ft 4cm former cop trained in the martial arts, I’m willing to admit that in this case it’s possible I was blindsided by privilege, so perhaps take my critique with a handful of sodium chloride. Having said that, all I know about self-defense screams “don’t complicate it.” A $7 canister of pepper spray in one hand and a phone in the other seem more reliable than a solution that presents 444 with a vision of a safer future.

Read more about CES 2023 at TechCrunch

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