For their course project last semester, Cornell University students John Yin, Cordelia Lee and Adrian Tung created PepGuard, a device that consists of a canister of pepper spray fitted with a microcontroller and a camera. When used against an attacker, the canister releases the spray and takes a picture, which is then transmitted to an Android OS phone via Bluetooth. An accompanying app receives the picture and can then optionally call 911 or another preset emergency number. Per the course requirements, the entire device cost less than $100 to develop.
What’s the Big Idea?
The students say that they built PepGuard in response to a rising crime wave on Cornell’s campus. The completed device is a prototype, and it’s not clear when or if it will be developed further, but writer Emil Protalinski says it’s quite an achievement considering the average person’s state of mind when under attack: “Chances are your description of the criminal in question won’t be very accurate. After all, your quick-thinking is completely focused on protecting yourself. That’s where the [PepGuard comes in].”