PRO(TECH)T Yourself: A New Wearable Tech to Combat Sexual Assault
Sexual assault. It’s not a nice term. And I wish it wasn’t something we had to talk about. The unfortunate truth is that there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault annually in the United States (that’s more than one every two minutes), with 44% of victims under age 18 and a whopping 80% of victims under the age of 30.*
My own alma mater, Lawrence University, saw almost 400 people come together this week for a dinner hosted by MARS (Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault) where men were asked to hold themselves and their peers to a higher standard. Joe Samalin, a national speaker on the prevention of violence against women, asked those present to become involved in prevention of sexual assault so that it was not left to survivors of sexual assault to carry the burden of educating others.
It is this key piece of prevention University of North Carolina – Asheville juniors Madison Eddings and Ben Eisdorfer with their company PRO(TECH)T, LLC. Madison and Ben met in a social entrepreneurship course at their university and found they had similar social missions. Madison told me, “People very close to us have experienced [sexual assault].” In fact, one in five women and three in 50 men will be sexually assaulted during their time in college.** In discussing this issue, the two came to the conclusion that the only thing someone who is – or is about to become – a victim of sexual assault needs is for someone else – anyone else – to know where they are.
Seeking a way to effect lasting change and positively impact the epidemic of sexual assault in the country, the two developed iuvo, a bracelet that, with the press of a button, will transmit a GPS signal to campus police via a secure website to let someone know where the victim is located so that help can be dispatched immediately. This cellphone independent technology has the potential to revolutionize the “call for help” that so many in distress wish they could send. With iuvo, Madison and Ben took first place in the North Carolina Social Entrepreneurship Competition. From there, they went on to found PRO(TECH)T, although they both admit that they never had plans to start a business while still in college!
Describing themselves as a social enterprise that uses wearable technology to fight campus sexual assault and make a lasting change, PRO(TECH)T is on a mission to market a product that there will someday be no need for. Hand in hand with iuvo, Madison and Ben have plans to reform the way sexual assault is viewed and handled by putting a portion of their proceeds towards awareness campaigns, legislative reforms, and sexual assault education programs like the one held at Lawrence. They are on a mission not only to decrease the number of sexual assaults on campus by providing a distress call, but also by creating programs that will heal the underlying issues behind such assaults.
The two are currently working with Enventys in Charlotte on the development and production of iuvo. They plan to start beta testing the bracelet on campuses in about 6 months and would like to release the bracelet and its corresponding online software one year from now.
To help fund iuvo and support the efforts of PRO(TECH)T, please visit their GoFundMe page.
*Statistics are from the website of the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN).
** Statistics from the PRO(TECH)T website.