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A jacket to shield women from assault, harassment

The smart jacket by Nyokas called ZEAL, has an automated solution unlike other SOS items. The sensors detect any assault or unusual force applied on the body of the wearer and automatically gives a shock to the attacker and buys the wearer some time.

ET Online|
Updated: Dec 04, 2019, 11.28 AM IST
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The jacket has a three layered structure – the fabric, the lining and embedded soft sensors in between.
Hot Startups 2020
By Pranbihanga Borpuzari & Geetha Jayaraman

Technology is getting into every aspect of our life, then why is it not used in safety? This got Ajay Sangwan, a then final year student of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) - Delhi thinking. He started working on designing a garment that not only helps you track your daily activities, but protects you too.

“For my final year project in 2015, I focused on textile technology and designed a jacket that can detect an attacker, deter him with a mild shock and alert people,” shares Sangwan, founder, Nyokas Technology, a start-up based out of Maker Village, Kochi.

He founded the company in 2017 with a vision to merge textile and technology into intelligent products. The idea was to create a wearable jacket for the sole purpose of self-protection in case of an unwanted assault or a life threatening situation, he explains.

“Technology is the future. So, why not combine textile and technology. You wear a protective gear in a chemical factory, or in a fire or any toxic environment, similarly, you wear a protective gear which you can wear day in and day out. While the electric shock functionality gives you immediate protection, the connectivity function gets you the eventual help.”

Talking about the product, ZEAL, Sangwan says is a jacket with a small device attached to it. The device weighs just 60 gm and sends SOS/GPS signals to people you trust and even the police patrolling nearby, during an attack. The technology used here is a combination of conductive textile, printed electronics, hardware and software that can be used to sense and respond to the human body.

The smart jacket has an automated solution unlike other SOS items. “The wearer need not be alert to press a button or dial a number. It automatically gives a shock to the attacker and buys the wearer some time,” he adds.

nyokas-founder
Ajay Sangwan

Sangwan specialises in producing a patented soft circuit system called Nyokas Electronic Textile (NET). The NET is designed to integrate into textile products. “These circuits can sense, actuate and analyse data. NET is attached to a connector of your choosing (USB, JST, Magenetic pogo pin, etc). The NET can also be manufactured to have solder pads to connect to a wired system. We customise the size, shape and functionality of our NET of the product,” says Sangwan.

The jacket is made out of nanofiber and can be washed and reused. “We use nanofiber and high-performance material for our clothing line. The circuit doesn’t get damaged due to regular wash and it is easy maintenance too.”

He adds that the jacket has a three layered structure – the fabric, the lining and embedded soft sensors in between. The sensors detect any assault or unusual force applied on the body of the wearer. “If someone grabs you, attacks or is trying to pin you, the pressure activated sensor will detect it and will ascertain the danger. At the same time, it is breathable, can repel water, is flexible and odour free,” says Sangwan.

The detachable hardware analyse the data from the sensors to ascertain the danger. The analysis is done on several parameters (by microprocessor), to ensure that the danger is real, so that the jacket does not activate itself with false alarms.

It is very easy to use asserts Ajay. “The hardware piece of the jacket is detachable and that is what activates the device. You can connect it to the jacket whenever you want and press the start button.”

The start button puts the jacket in a standby mode. “When activated by a threat it will analyse the threat and act accordingly. It is completely safe for the wearer as the sensors that activate the mild electric shock are on the surface of the jacket and the electric shock it gives just thwarts your attacker, not cause any grievous harm to them.”

Nyokas Technologies won the social innovation award from the US Consulate, Chennai. The company is currently working on a line for the defence, wherein the garment can access the fitness capabilities of the soldier in the field. The startup is also designing a range exclusively for the defence sector, where the cloth not only records the fitness status of the wearer, but sends an immediate SOS to the base if a soldier is injured.

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