Personal safety is an everyday concern for those who find themselves walking through Contra Costa College alone at night.
ROBOCOPP, a company based out of Oakland, provides a wearable “sound grenade” that is about the size of a USB flash drive and weighs less than one ounce.
The siren is activated by separating the pin at the top of the device from the body. Once reinserted the alarm ceases.
With the device active, ROBOCOPP emits a 120 dB alarm for up to approximately 30 minutes and is even tested to work under underwater for over an hour, ROBOCOPP Press Relations Director Jill Turner said.
“In our studies we found that nine out of 10 people never use their pepper spray,” Turner said. “We don’t advocate against not using pepper spray but you’re not going to give it to a 2-year-old. You shouldn’t have to worry about your personal safety.”
She said the founder of the company created the deterrent when he began looking for a device for his sister who was attending college and was unsure of her safety on her walk home from campus.
He looked on Amazon and found it bizarre that he could only find pepper spray and tasers as far as everyday self-defense items and thought of them as a violent means of self defense that ultimately prolonged the victim’s exposure to the assailant by having to remain within close proximity to use it, Turner said.
“(On campus]) we have had a couple of incidents of assault,” ASU Vice President of Club Affairs Safi Ward-Davis said. “No one really walks by themselves here but it’s still a good thing to have generally. If you hear that piercing noise, people will be attracted.”
Turner said the “sound grenade” is also approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and is allowed within federal buildings, places that pepper spray and tasers are prohibited.
“We spent the first six months researching lighting, cameras and alarms and how they affect assault (situations),” Turner said. “We found that 68 percent of bank robbers fled the scene empty handed after the alarm went off and 86 percent of burglars would check a house for alarm systems.”
The alarm sound can be compared to an ambulance siren to deter the assailant and attract the attention people nearby, Turner said.
The device is currently listed on the company website for $19.99 for one device. Also, a family pack of five for $79.99, is available.
“The idea is that it’s easy to use. Anyone can use it,” Turner said. “And 50 percent of our customers are males.”
Turner said in one customer testimony about the device, a male student reported being mugged and began searching for a self defense class offered on his campus, but was unable to join based on the class restricting males from registering.
She said ROBOCOPP fulfilled his needs as a deterrent and self protection.
The company also cited tests against bears as an alternative to chemical repellents with results being that 81 percent were repelled by the horn, according to research information on the company website.