XPRIZE, the global leader in designing incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, announced the 21 teams advancing in the $1M Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE, which challenges competitors around the world to leverage technology to create accessible and affordable safety solutions that help tackle violence and harassment against women.
The competition challenges a diverse range of global teams, including several cross-country collaborations, to develop an affordable, pragmatic device that provides women with the ability to rapidly respond to threats. The solution should autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert and transmit information to a network of community responders, all within 90 seconds. In order to help give the product maximum adoption potential, the winning technology should cost no more than US$40.
With XPRIZE, Anu and Naveen Jain conceptualized and launched the Women’s Safety XPRIZE as a response against the mounting frequency of harassment and assault women face across developed and emerging countries alike.
“According to statistics from the United Nations, one in three women have faced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, with one in five being a victim of assault on college campuses across the United States – yet 90 percent of victims don’t report the case,” said Anu Jain, philanthropist and champion for the Women’s Safety XPRIZE. “We sparked this initiative to curb the harassment epidemic against women and empower them to pursue their dreams.”
The semifinalists were chosen by an independent judging panel from a field of 85 teams following XPRIZE’s initial launch at a United Nations day celebration in October 2016. Among them are app developers, technology researchers, academic institutions and startups working toward safety for women worldwide.
“We are immensely proud of the most talented entrepreneurs and visionaries in the world who are developing the products to enable millions of women to truly live without fear,” said Naveen Jain, philanthropist and champion for the Women’s Safety XPRIZE.
The 21 teams advancing are:
- Artemis (Lausanne, Switzerland) – Led by Dr. Nicee Srivastava and Dr. Katerina Zisaki, Artemis is developing a device that can trigger an alert not only through a button or gesture, but also by seamlessly tracking the emotional threat level faced by the woman.
- Guardinum (Seattle, WA, United States) – Led by Haroon Rasheed, Guardinum is developing innovative technology solutions to make the world a safer place.
- Hera Global Tech (Bengaluru, India; Pittsburgh, PA, United States) – Led by Poorvi Mathur and Elizabeth LaRue, Hera Global Tech is developing an intuitive solution for women’s safety without wearing a band, pressing a button or finding a phone.
- IDEAHOUSE (Hyderabad, India) – Led by Ramdas Kumbala, IDEAHOUSE is developing a technologically-equipped device that can trace the location of a user in distress and alert those nearby for help, even if the signal strength is low.
- Jayawear (Reno, NV, United States) – Led by Allison Clift-Jennings, Jayawear is developing a product that will enable women to create their own safety together, regardless of social status, income or reliance on technological infrastructure.
- Krupa (San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA, United States; New Delhi, India; Vancouver, Canada) – Led by Karthika Purushothaman, Krupa is building an AI-powered wearable, which uses multiple user-generated and non user-generated signals to detect attacks and convey messages to a server, which can broadcast a call for help to all nearby users.
- Mangos (Tucson, AZ, United States) – Led by Mark Hardy, Mangos is a student-led initiative developing a solution for the competition.
- Nimb (Los Altos, CA, United States; Moscow, Russia; Shenzhen, China) – Led by Leo Bereschanskiy, Nimb is developing a personal security platform that consists of software and hardware that helps people call for help in case of emergency with just a touch of the thumb.
- SAFER Pro from Leaf Wearables(New Delhi, India) – Led by Manik Mehta, Leaf Wearables is building SAFER Pro, an enhanced new version of their popular smart safety device.
- SafeTrek (St. Louis, MO, United States) – Led by Nick Droege, SafeTrek is building on top of their personal safety application’s infrastructure to launch the first connected safety platform where anyone can sync their existing apps and products with SafeTrek’s services to enable new, efficient and user-friendly methods of getting help in any emergency.
- Saffron (Bellevue, WA, United States; Tsinghua, China) – Led by Nicholas Baker, Saffron is a collaboration between the University of Washington and Tsinghua University through the Global Innovation eXchange (GIX), focused on developing wearable sensors and machine learning algorithms to create inconspicuous technologies that improve the safety and well-being of women around the world.
- Sango (Thiruvananthapuram, India) – Led by AM Amith, SANGO is working on an IoT device integrated with artificial intelligence that can autonomously trigger an alarm in a panic situation.
- Securella (Hamburg, Germany) – Led by Wolfgang von Geramb, Securella is building a one-click, intuitive button that rapidly connects to multiple security sources using automation technology.
- Shanvi (San Diego, CA, United States) – Led by Debashis Sahoo, Shanvi is developing a hardware and software solution for safety triggers and response using the latest technology.
- Smart HLP (Fremont, CA, United States) – Led by Sridhara Rao Bollam, Smart HLP is developing a tracking device to help women in emergency situations.
- Soterra (Bethlehem, PA, United States) – Led by Lena McDonnell, Soterra is using a combination of global positioning services, cellular data and bluetooth to build a versatile, reliable and affordable network to connect women to emergency support systems with or without internet access.
- Stree Raksha (Coimbatore, India) – Led by M. Gopikrishnan, Stree Raksha is a team of family members developing an empathetic, non-intrusive ecosystem for women’s safety.
- UC3M4Safety (Madrid, Spain) – Led by Celia Lopez-Ongil, UC3M4Safety is developing a wearable solution that will detect a user’s panic, fear and stress through physiological sensor data, speech and audio analysis, machine-learning algorithms and multimodal data fusion.
- Ulzi (San Luis Obispo, CA, United States) – Led by Maxwell Fong, Elan Timmons and Madison Weiss, Ulzi is a customizable personal safety phone application that harnesses the power of community and works to reduce sexual assault and create safer communities.
- Wearsafe (Hartford, CT, United States) – Led by David Benoit, Wearsafe is creating a software platform that allows technological devices to collect and transmit critical information about a user, such as health status, in order to understand situational context and signal for help.
- Xeno: The Personal Crowdsourced Bodyguard (Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Xi’an, China; San Diego, CA, United States) – Led by Ali Raheman, Xeno is developing the world’s first crowdsourced women’s safety device blockchained for security, privacy and anonymity of the victim, as well as those who respond to an incident. Camouflaged as a fashion accessory, the technology is capable of dispatching hands-free SOS alerts.
The semifinalist teams will be given an additional six months to create a deployment-ready prototype. Each of the solutions will then be tested live in front of the judging panel in a simulated testing environment in Mumbai, India, in April 2018. The winner will be announced in June 2018.
In addition to the competitor pool, the Women’s Safety XPRIZE announced the judging panel, which includes diverse experts in security, engineering and entrepreneurship:
- Lauren C. Anderson, internationally recognized geopolitical and international security consultant, and a distinguished former FBI executive;
- Judy Feng, antenna engineering program manager at Apple, Inc.;
- Dr. Shruti Kapoor, award-winning gender equality activist, economist, social entrepreneur and founder of Sayfty, a non-government organization that educates and empowers the women and girls of India against violence;
- Nic McKinley, founder and executive director of DeliverFund, a nonprofit private intelligence organization;
- Gioia Messinger, founder and principal of LinkedObjects, Inc., a technology and business strategy firm specializing in the Internet of Things, and entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of California, San Diego;
- Shalani Prakash, venture partner at 500Startups, overseeing the global venture capital firm’s investments, portfolio and operations in India;
- Tyson Woeste,founder and CEO of Transported, a venture-funded startup that allows anyone to create virtual reality tours of the world’s most interesting places and spaces.
“We are thankful to Anu and Naveen Jain for selecting XPRIZE as the platform of choice for philanthropists to use crowdsourcing and incentive prizes to help address women’s safety worldwide,” said Marcus Shingles, CEO of XPRIZE. “The solutions that emerge from the Women’s Safety XPRIZE will have the potential to offer breakthroughs to help arm communities everywhere with safety networks in innovative, unprecedented ways.”
XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. XPRIZE utilizes a unique combination of gamification, crowd-sourcing, incentive prize theory, and exponential technologies as a formula to make 10x (vs. 10%) impact in the grand challenge domains facing our world. XPRIZE’s philosophy is that—under the right circumstances—igniting rapid experimentation from a variety of diverse lenses is the most efficient and effective method to driving exponential impact and solutions to grand challenges. Active competitions include the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $15M Global Learning XPRIZE, the $7M Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, the $7M Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, the $1.75M Water Abundance XPRIZE and the $1M Anu & Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE. For more information, visit www.xprize.org/.