Written By: Cole Edwards
A new smartphone case created to help ease the number of sexual assault cases, particularly on college campuses, is soon to be available.
The Whistl is described as an iPhone case that aims to prevent sexual assault and violent crime by giving the user a case where one click of a button on the side of will trigger an alarm system (a loud siren and flashing light), notify 911 services and loved ones of danger and automatically begin recording video and audio.
LifeShel, the company behind the case, is marketing the Whistl as unlike any other device or software on the market because it does not require the user to have to log into their phone or carry an extra device (such as pepper spray) with them to activate the software.
With just a couple clicks of the button, the Whistl case will emit a temporary blinding LED light and alarm sound at 120 decibels, equivalent to being on front row at a rock concert.
A connection through the phone’s Bluetooth system will then send a 911 alert and message to preset family members through a group SMS chat, as well as turning on video and audio recording.
Whistl also contains a check-in feature that will check in on the user every few minutes and automatically activate the alarm and notification features if the user fails to respond by a click of the button.
“We want to create a culture where our community is engaged, emergency services are at the ready, and there is increased reporting and accountability,” said Jayon Wang, LifeShel CEO. “The Whistl’s features are designed with those goals in mind.”
Still in its early stages, Whistl has already been featured on numerous media outlets including C-SPAN and NPR.
During a Pittsburg visit with TechShop workers that led to a conversation with Wang, President Obama commented on “the ability for people to alert, using a smartphone, friends, family, law enforcement quickly if they find themselves in a tough situation.”
The LifeShel company was founded in 2013 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg by a group of engineering students who wanted to create smarter safety products for other college students following a close friend’s haunting experience as a sexual assault victim.
A limited number of Whistl smartphone cases are being offered for $57 through an online Kickstarter campaign though Whistl cases for iPhone devices will begin shipping wide in the summer of 2015, with Galaxy S and HTC One series cases to soon follow. (The free app required to use the device will also be available in the summer.)
“We hope to reach college students, parents, runners, cab drivers, bartenders, anyone especially concerned with personal safety,” said Wang. “The more Whistl cases we can get in people’s hands, the better we can work together to make our communities safer.”