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ROBOCOPP’S Sound Grenade hits web store fall 2016

(Jill Turner) The sound grenade is a portable safety device no bigger than a flash drive.
(Jill Turner)
The sound grenade is a portable safety device no bigger than a flash drive.

No bigger than a flash drive, a device called the Sound Grenade, is partnering with Mills College’s Public Safety.

The device, made by Oakland based startup ROBOCOPP, is a security device that protects an individual without causing injury to others in the surrounding area. The device has succeeded because it is easy to use and portable. The security system has an attachable top, which allows students to connect the Sound Grenade to their keys or backpack.

The Sound Grenade is activated by pulling the top, which emits a sound rated at 120 decibels, similar to a car alarm. This tool could be used for all types of emergencies, such as confronting an attacker or alerting people in the area for help.

Director of Public Safety Niviece Robinson explained that Mills has decided to start a partnership with ROBOCOPP by creating a web store for students to purchase the body alarms by Fall 2016.

“We actually used to give out little body alarms at the gate,” Robinson said. “We were actually looking for something similar on campus. I’ve had the opportunity to go through campus safety meetings out in Silicon Valley, and see what they’re doing on their campuses.”

Robinson explained that ROBOCOPP reached out to Mills’ Department of Public Safety and gave a presentation about the device and its benefits. ROBOCOPP and Public Safety agreed on first creating an online store where students could purchase the device with a 20 percent discount, regularly $19.99. Once Mills releases the device in its web store and assesses students’ interests with the product, it will look into pursuing a long-term commitment.

ROBOCOPP’s CEO and Co-Founder Sam Mansen said that the idea for the Sound Grenade came when his sister was looking for portable security devices that she could carry when walking on campus at night. While looking online, Mansen saw that, in the current market, the most common type of personal safety device was pepper spray.

“I think the non-violent aspect is very important, you might accidentally activate this, it’s not going to harm anybody,” Mansen said.

Christine Schoefer, karate and personal defense teacher, believes that the Sound Grenade can be problematic because it requires two hands. As someone who teaches self defense, she saw it to be very important to have safety devices that can be used with just one hand

“We have this idea in self-defense about a tool box, and you have all these different techniques and skills that you teach and you decide which ones you like, and you put them in your tool box, and this could be one of them,” Schoefer said.

Officer Wade MacAdam, a crime prevention officer at UC Berkeley, told Oakland North that although the tool would be better than having nothing on you, students should not solely depend on the Sound Grenade as their main means of safety.

“Consider doing some sort of comparison to car alarms,” MacAdam said. “Who responds to a car alarm? Nobody.”

Catherine Castillo, a ROBOCOPP user, discussed her personal experience with the Sound Grenade. Castillo carries the device while going on runs throughout her neighborhood and carries it with her during her workday.

“I would say the Grenade is effective personal safety, because you have a built-in alarm with you, [and] will not be ignored by people around you. You will for sure get someone’s attention right away,” Castillo said.

Castillo believes that the Sound Grenade is more useful than mace or pepper spray, because you might accidentally spray yourself. The Sound Grenade will just sound an alarm and give you time to run away.

Jill Turner, public relations director at ROBOCOPP, said the company is reaching out to other campuses throughout California to pursue more partnerships.