By James Rooney, Senior Program Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs
It’s a wearable “panic button” for the unexpected dangerous circumstance. Attached to a bracelet, the panic button will signal to a Windows Phone OS, sending a 30-second voice clip to a pre-identified emergency contact with the phone. A GPS system will keep track of the person wearing the device.
SafeWear was designed by a team of Microsoft software engineers led by Thambu Zaemenock Kamalabai, who came up with the idea after hearing about a woman attacked on a bus in India. “She didn’t have a phone or any way of notifying someone,” Thambu said. “She was totally alone.”
Thambu wanted to come up with a device for people who may need to call for help but don’t carry a phone. Children will be able to wear the bracelet and be connected to parents’ phones. Runners can connect to a friend or family member. Travelers and seniors can be connected to loved ones.
“I have a five-year-old daughter and I’m not ready to give her a phone so a wearable solution is perfect,” Thambu said. “It’s safe and easy to operate in case of an emergency.”
At our Hackathon last month at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA, employees from across the globe worked in teams, hacking for two days to come up with apps and solutions for government, consumers, nonprofits and more. More than 30 of the teams created Tech for Good solutions designed to address social issues.
Thambu and his team won in the Tech for Good category. Judges said the project was innovative, useful, and they liked the wearable angle. The team was awarded a $1,000 donation gift card for YouthSpark on GlobalGiving, a crowdfunding program that finances important projects around the world.
The two other winners in the Tech for Good category were Ability EyeGaze which uses Microsoft tech like the Surface 3 and Kinect to enable people with ALS and other degenerative diseases to control their assistive technologies, such as wheelchairs and communication tools, using only their eyes. Another winner, MATT: Microsoft Accessibility Testing Tool, makes accessibility testing for products faster and easier.
Team SafeWear is already turning its winning idea into a reality. The team is currently working with hardware engineers to perfect the bracelet prototype, and has been pitching the concept and product to potential investors and Microsoft development teams.
Microsoft Citizenship is proud to sponsor the Tech for Good category as part of our commitment to creating solutions that serve the needs of people around the globe.
About the //oneweek Hackathon, Thambus said, “It was such a great experience turning my idea into a product, I can’t wait to take this to the next level.”