Techies take on the culture of gender violence

Guardian Angels

Earlier in March this year, a group of five friends, sat in their campus canteen, sipping on chocolate milk and engaged in an animated discussion. Soon the group, all of whom are technology students, started debating on the safety issues and sexual violence faced by women in India.

Within minutes after they had started discussing about the issue, the five techies decided to develop a wearable device for women which can be used to make a distress call when they face a threat. The project was called ‘Guardian’. The five friends had found a cause to rally for and soon established - Leaf Laboratories, a tech company dedicated to innovate.

Nine months later, the group today is days away from launching their product – a security wrist watch. The watch is unique not only because of the fact that it is among the first innovations when it comes to human security wearable devices, but also due to the mechanism it involves.  

The features that make the technology stand out against the existing solutions of women’s security is the automatic sensing of danger by the device, communicational redundancy in the system and ‘crowd sourcing of help’ which is done by alerting the community via “Guardian” mobile application.

‘Project Guardian’, according to the group, took in consideration the under-developed networking technology of the Capital and made the wrist watch practically foolproof by creating a ‘virtual adhoc network’ in areas where there is no phone or internet coverage.

“We developed the wrist watch on the third redundancy layer. If a woman faces danger all she has to do is send a signal through her watch which is connected to her mobile. Even if both internet and phone coverage are not available, the message is delivered after an ad hoc network is created. The signal is received by us in the central control room and we take care of the rest,” said Chiraag Kapil, one of the co-founders of Leaf Laboratories.

The “Take care of the rest” part is even more interesting. The ‘control room’ as Kapil called it, is the office of Leaf Laboratories. The office receives the message in form of a signal and immediately the techies sent out messages and calls to family and friends of the woman who is supposedly in danger. Furthermore, messages are sent out to the local police and people who are residing in the location where the woman is at that moment.

“We were moved after seeing the newspapers filled with horrible news of sexual violence against women. As engineers, it is our moral responsibility to contribute towards the society by using the skills which we possess,”added Kapil. The other four founding members of the tech solution start-up are Avinash Bansal, Ayush Banka, Manik Mehta and Paras Batra.

Apart from Batra, who is a student of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, the other founding members are students of Delhi Technology University (DTU). All of them are aged 21. Currently, the company has five permanent and 15 part-time employees working in a small office in Karol Bagh, New Delhi.

While the group had developed other innovative technology including a voice control wheelchair and a quad copter, it is the Guardian which finds more resonance in them. “Our product comes in March and right now our priority is to make it as cheap as possible. We have the patent for it and what we really want is that these watches are affordable to everyone. Not everyone is rich in India and we want to cater to everyone,” Kapil concluded.

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