A hair clip that comes with its own SWAT team. What could go wrong?

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on March 6, 2014

From The News Desk

The wearables industry has discovered women. And not just women, but women in danger.

If we can have smart watches to notify us of text messages and smart wristbands to track our steps, why not smart hair clips to call 911 when we're being attacked?

That's the thinking of the founders of First Sign, who are developing a surveillance-security hair clip. The First Sign clip has an accelerometer and gyroscope inside that detects forceful violent action. When that happens, it starts recording audio through a microphone on the hair clip and activates a corresponding phone app.

If the user pays for monthly surveillance monitoring, the audio is streamed to a security team, like the ones that monitor home security systems. The phone turns on speaker and says, "Help is on the way." Then it automatically dials 911, also on speaker.

The founders, married couple Arthur and Rachel Emanuele, are running an Indiegogo campaign to get market validation and seed funds for building the prototype their engineers have mapped out. With exactly one week left in the campaign, they've got another $20,000 to go before reaching their goal.

Before coming up with the idea for First Sign, the Emanueles did research and found that two thirds of violent attacks involve a head injury, a stat that comes from an academic analysis of assaults. That's why the clip monitoring is predicated on a forceful blow to the head occurring.

For the women assaulted who don't suffer a blow to the head, they can hit the clip themselves like a panic button.

I've got goosebumps just thinking of all the ways this could go wrong.

You trip on your chair and sprawl on the floor -- 911 listens in on the aftermath (namely, your co-workers laughing at you). You bang your head on a low hanging lamp. 911 gets called. You do a cartwheel in a fit of glee at Dolores Park. 911. You forget to take the hair clip off before bed and roll over it in the middle of the night. 911. You remember to take it off, but you leave it on the floor and step on it in the morning. 911. The answer to my entire life would be 911.

Arthur Emanuele disagrees. "The forces associated with injury and violent crime are way above the normal thresholds of injury," he says. The engineers the Emanueles have hired to work on the product have assured them false alarms won't be an issue.

That said, the prototype isn't finished yet -- the engineers are working on the schematics, the chips, the algorithm, and the programming. They can't confirm what could trigger the clip until they test it out on real-life people. Particularly clumsy ones.

[Image credit: Brad Jonas for Pando]