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A new bracelet can detect if you’re being attacked, automatically call help

Automating personal safety with wearable smart jewelry

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have developed a smart wearable they hope could be used to keep people safe in the face of possible physical or sexual assault, or elderly people experiencing a fall. The Smart Jewelry Bracelet uses a combination of machine learning technology and smart sensors to automatically detect when an assault or fall takes place.

The bracelet can then alert passersby with a loud beeping sound and a red strobe light. It also connects, via Bluetooth, to the wearer’s smartphone and sends their location and an emergency message to a predetermined contact list. Unlike dialing 911 or using an emergency app, the device works autonomously — meaning that the user is not required to trigger it.

“The difference with existing panic button type devices is that we use multi-modal sensing and machine learning to automatically detect the assault or the fall,” Ragib Hasan, associate professor of computer science in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, told Digital Trends. “This is a significant improvement as the assault or the fall can leave the user unconscious or otherwise unable to call for help.”

The multi-modal sensing Hasan refers to includes accelerometers able to detect unusual movements, as well as blood pressure and temperature sensors to sense elevated blood pressure on the part of the wearer. The bracelet’s learning component allows it to learn to distinguish between the user’s regular movements and an unusual incident. It can function for more than 12 hours on a single charge.

“Our goal is to make an inconspicuous wearable bracelet, which for all purposes looks and feels like a regular jewelry item, but which can essentially act as a guardian angel to watch over the user,” Hasan said.

He noted that the current Smart Jewelry Bracelet is only a prototype, and not yet ready to bring to market. The team working on it is continuously improving the prototype by adding additional sensors to collect more data. They are also working to incorporate similar sensing technology into other objects like shoes and earrings which can be worn by the user.

“We envision a future where our everyday objects will be smart without looking like nerdy gadgets,” Hasan continued. “We are essentially working on making the computer invisible, yet an essential component of our everyday clothing, jewelry, and other objects.”

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Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
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