Photo Courtesy of ROBOCOPP

The Sound Grenade is disguised as a USB drive for users to clip onto keys

 

May 10, 2016

ROBOCOPP unveils self-defense device for students

By Mike Derosa

With multiple buildings spread across 85 acres throughout downtown Cleveland, Cleveland State University is the 11th largest campus in Ohio, according to the Cleveland State homepage and colleges.niche.com. In addition to being large, the main campus is in the heart of downtown Cleveland which, according to neighborhoodscout.com, has a 1 in 75 chance of a resident being the victim of a crime.


This statistic means that out of a total of 1,000 residents, 54 are at risk of being a victim of a property-related crime and 13 of them are at risk of becoming the victim of a violent crime annually. This is where the Sound Grenade, a new portable safety alarm, can come to the rescue.


Sam Manson, developer of the Sound Grenade as well as CEO of ROBOCOPP, which is the company that sells the device, said during a phone interview on April 25 that the device is a sound grenade that emits a 120-decibel alarm that sounds constantly for 30 minutes.


“In 2010 I was looking for a personal safety device for my sister because her campus was in a sketchy area,” Mason said. “I was on Amazon looking for a bracelet or something she could wear to call the cops with, and I was 100 percent sure that I would find something where she could press a button and the cops would show up.”


Mason said he was really shocked that with all the technology at hand, the device he was looking for was not available. The only forms of defense were pepper spray or knives, which Mason noted after months of research, that most people don’t even use or miss the chance to use.


“I started looking at other options and found the personal alarm, which was a concept that had been around for 20 years maybe,” he said. “But even though the technology got better, the personal alarm hadn’t improved at all. No company has taken the time to improve the personal alarm even though the numbers are superior to pepper spray in terms of its effectiveness.”


Mason developed the final design and released it near the end of July 2015.
“We compare the device to a grenade,” Mason said. “You pull the pin and instead of an explosion, a 120-decibel alarm will sound for 30 minutes continuously.”


According to Mason, the device is no larger than a USB drive, being only two inches in length and one inch in width, and is available for purchase for $19.99.


“We actually have something called the ROBOCOPP challenge,” Mason said. “[It’s] where we say if you find a smaller, lighter alarm, we will give you and your entire freshman class our alarm for free.”


According to Jill Turner, public relations director of ROBOCOPP, the project initially began as an Indiegogo, a global site for fundraisers, campaign.


“The campaign we ran was just one of the numerous ways we fundraised, and got the word out about our mission,” Turner said. “We released the Sound Grenade a few months thereafter, and it is available for purchase on our website -- robocopp.com, Amazon, and on dormco.com, which is the biggest supplier of dorm essentials in the country.”


Turner also noted that some Cleveland students have been reported using the device.
“We typically reach out to campuses when we notice that several students have bought the device in that area,” she explained. “We’re on over 100 campuses across the U.S.”


According to Turner, in addition to Cleveland, some of the other campuses who have students using ROBOCOPP include the University of Michigan, Arizona State University, University of Washington and Boston University.


Turner also noted that campuses throughout California use the personal alarm.
“I think it tends to work out really well on college campuses because of the effect of the device as an acoustic deterrent,” she said, “but it also attracts attention. So not only are you preventing the attack with this loud siren, you’re getting a lot of attention for yourself.”


“Because of that it just works better in a college environment since you have that already built-in community of a college campus,” she noted. “Students are already looking out for one another and with this device it’s more likely to help you there than if you were in the middle of New York.”


Some Cleveland State students expressed a variety of opinions ranging from positive to skeptical.
Taylor Stump, a junior at Cleveland State, said, “It could be pretty effective. If it’s small enough you could hide it in your pocket and it can promote campus safety, then why not?”


Kateri Zawilinski, a sophomore at Cleveland State University, said, “It sounds good. The device could be useful in many situations.”


Tatiana Taylor, a freshman at Cleveland State University, said, “It may be useful, but it may aggravate the person, making them more aggressive and do something worse than what they originally intended.”


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