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A New Idea In Activewear: Panic Buttons For Your Pants

Apparel brand Yogasmoga is investing in a wearable device that alerts a user’s contacts when he or she is in distress.

A New Idea In Activewear: Panic Buttons For Your Pants
[Photos: courtesy of Yogasmoga]

If you go jogging at night, there are a few nightmare scenarios that may occasionally cross your mind: spraining your ankle, getting mugged, or being sexually assaulted. Right now, there are many smartphone apps, such as Real Alert or SafeTrek, that allow you to ping your contacts or local emergency services if you’re in trouble. The problem is, by the time you fumble around with your phone to open the app, it might be too late—and in any case, phones are usually the first thing to get stolen.

But what if there were an inconspicuous panic button you could press on your pants or top that would send out distress signals?

That’s the future that Yogasmoga, the yoga apparel brand known for its high-tech fabrics, is imagining. Today, the company announced an undisclosed investment in a year-old company called Wearsafe Labs, the maker of a pebble-shaped device that pairs with your phone, allowing users to alert friends and family when they are in trouble. It also sends out an audio recording of whatever was happening 60 seconds before the alert was sent out, so that those contacts can try to piece together what happened (the device is constantly recording and erasing 60-second clips). The device currently only works with iOS, but Wearsafe Labs says that an Android version is coming out within a month. Users must buy a $4.99 monthly subscription to keep the service active.

“It’s this recording functionality that convinced me that this was worth considering seriously,” says Yogasmoga chairman Ravi Singh, who sits on Wearsafe’s board of directors and led a nearly $3 million round of investment in the company in December.

In the short term, Yogasmoga will promote and sell the Wearsafe device in its stores as a standalone product. But over time, the yoga apparel maker is hoping to incorporate the technology into garments. “Our goal is to get the chip inside the device to be so inexpensive that we could just incorporate it into clothing,” says Rishi Bali, the cofounder and CEO of Yogasmoga.

About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.