XPRIZE, one of the global leaders in designing incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, recently announced 21 teams as semifinalists for the $1 million Anu and Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE. The Jains are an Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropic couple based in Seattle, Washington.
The XPRIZE challenges competitors around the world to leverage technology to create accessible and affordable safety solutions that help tackle violence and harassment against women, according to an organization news release.
The solution should autonomously and inconspicuously trigger an emergency alert and transmit information to a network of community responders, all within 90 seconds, it said.
In order to help give the product maximum adoption potential, the winning technology should cost no more than $40, the organization noted.
“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, an Indian American 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.”
Included among the semifinalists is Lausanne, Switzerland-based Artemis, led by Dr. Nicee Srivastava and Dr. Katerina Zisaki. The team 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.
Another semifinalist is Bangalore and Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Hera Global Tech led by Poorvi Mathur and Elizabeth LaRue. The team is developing an intuitive solution for women’s safety without wearing a band, pressing a button or finding a phone.
Hyderabad-based IDEAHOUSE, led by Ramdas Kumbala, 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.
Team Krupa, based in San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Canada; and New Delhi and led by Karthika Purushothaman, 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.
SAFER Pro from Leaf Wearables, based in New Delhi and led by Manik Mehta, is an enhanced new version of their popular smart safety device, and was among the 21 semifinalists.
Team Sango, a Thiruvananthapuram, India-based team led by A.M. Amith, is working on an IoT device integrated with artificial intelligence that can autonomously trigger an alarm in a panic situation.
San Diego, Calif.-based Shanvi, led by Debashis Sahoo, is developing a hardware and software solution for safety triggers and response using the latest technology.
Smart HLP, based in Fremont, Calif., and led by Sridhara Rao Bollam, is developing a tracking device to help women in emergency situations.
Coimbatore, India-based Stree Raksha, led by M. Gopikrishnan, is a team of family members developing an empathetic, non-intrusive ecosystem for women’s safety.
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.
“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, Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist.
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 in April 2018. The winner will be announced in June 2018.