Safety devices disguised as jewelry get you help with the click of a button

Modern panic buttons designed to be discrete, fashionable and effective in alerting someone for help

When you think of safety devices we were given growing up, you may think of a whistle or maybe pepper spray. As Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno shows us, things have changed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Safety and fashion usually are not used together in the same sentence.

However, companies have transformed bulky panic alert buttons into fashionable devices that could save your life.

In just the last few years, companies like Flare, Ripple and Nimb have come out with modern-day panic buttons. They’re designed to be discrete, fashionable and most importantly effective in alerting someone for help.

Most of these companies were inspired by scary encounters the founders experienced.

“It happened by complete accident,” said invisaWear co-founder and CEO Rajia Abdelaziz. “I never meant to start a company.”

In just the last few years, companies like Flare, Ripple and Nimb have come out with modern-day panic buttons. (Flare/Ripple/Nimb)

Abdelaziz said she came up with the idea after a man tried following her to her car when she was in college.

“What I couldn’t get out of my mind how, unfortunately, millions of women can’t say the same,” Abdelaziz said.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), someone in the United States is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds.

Wearable safety devices are meant to lower those numbers, and top security companies are now getting involved.

In December, ADT launched a partnership with invisaWear.

“We’ve seen, you know, all the way through domestic violence situations, we’ve seen medical emergencies,” explained ADT Mobile Security & Strategic Projects Vice President Leah Page.

ADT Mobile Security & Strategic Projects Vice President Leah Page speaks with News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson and News4Jax consumer investigative reporter Lauren Verno. (WJXT)

How it works

Here’s how it all works.

You buy the device, which can come as a necklace, bracelet or even a hair tie.

In an emergency, you click the button twice and an alert will go out to up to five people of your choosing with your location.

The items range in price from $149 to $249.

However, if you opt into ADT’s subscription for $19.99 a month, that alert will go straight to ADT’s monitoring system.

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson and I sat down to test out the product. ADT representative John McGinnis answered the call as if it was a real-life emergency.

Lauren Verno: “If I did that (double-clicks button) -- there we go. Hello.”

McGinnis: “Hi, Ms. Verno. Are you OK?”

Verno: “No, I feel like there’s a man following me and I just don’t feel comfortable.”

McGinnis: “OK, well, would you like me to notify the police at this time? To your location?”

Verno: “Yes, can you please? But I’m already walking.”

McGinnis: “OK, sure. Well, I’ve got you on the GPS here. Can you tell me like a clothing description so I can have the police look out for you?”

Verno: “I’m wearing a blue dress, I have sneakers on. Do you know how long until they’re going to be here?”

McGinnis: “I will notify the police. As soon as we disconnect this call, I will get them on the way. If you’d like, I can also initiate a chat conversation with you, so that way, we’ll be here or I can call you right back.”

Verno: “Let’s do that.”

McGinnis: “Alright, I’ll send the police now and then I’ll call you right back.”

News4Jax consumer investigative reporter Lauren Verno speaks with ADT representative John McGinnis. (WJXT)

“Now, what was impressive about that demonstration was the fact that you double-clicked, and I counted the time that it took for the app to pop up,” Jefferson said. “It was within 3 seconds that the app popped up, and then, within 10 seconds, John popped up, ready to help, and not only that, he had you on GPS.”

Then McGinnis called back.

“I have notified the police, and I will be holding with you,” McGinnis said.

“This is no slight on the police or their dispatcher because they do great work, but that’s faster, getting the police to dispatch faster,” Jefferson said.

If you by mistake double-click the button and didn’t mean to, don’t worry. You have the option of canceling the request.

However, if you double-click it and don’t answer because you’re suffering from a medical emergency or cannot speak, police will be dispatched to your location.

“We’re not tracking you any other part of the time that you’re wearing it. It starts with that initiation, all the way through the closure of that incident,” Page said. “That’s it. The rest of the time, it’s really just a beautiful piece of jewelry that you can enjoy.”

And, at the same time, provide peace of mind.

Jefferson joined us on The Morning Show to talk more about the devices. To hear more from him, watch the interview below:

Ken Jefferson joins us to talk about the usefulness of the Smart Armor Technology.