MEET THE INVENT FINALISTS: Ben Lindsay and Emma McQuiggan, Co-founders, STAND
Two engineering graduates from Queen’s University have designed Bold by STAND, a piece of wearable technology that you wear like jewellery, to keep you safe. Bold sends a message to five pre-defined contacts if you feel unsafe, activated by touching a button one, two or three times.
BOLD works independently of the user’s mobile phone, which the founders tell me is a major selling point.
“Also, this is a wearable you’d actually want to wear – it looks cool,” says Co-founder Ben Lindsay. “That’s what sets us apart from other personal alarm systems.”
Co-founder Emma McQuiggan adds, “When you’re walking home from the library at night and it’s dark and you’re alone, this product will give you confidence that you’re OK. It needed to go with a normal outfit you’d wear on a night out, otherwise people won’t wear it.”
The sleek, metallic wearable sends a Google map, pinning your current location, to your friends or family as follows:
- One button press sends the message: “This is where I am, but I’m safe”
- Two presses means: “Call me in 10 minutes”
- Press and hold means: “I’m in an emergency”
The story of how Ben and Emma came to design Bold started in China. “We were out in China last year, doing an industry module for our degree. We were thinking about products that could make the world better – specifically around issues we personally face everyday,” Ben says.
Personal safety became their shared mission. Now their immediate goal, to make STAND a success, has clearly cemented a great friendship between the two co-founders.
Ben is taking on STAND on as his fulltime job, while Emma will work for STAND while also doing a graduate job with a natural gas company. “I’m very interested in energy,” she says.
Ben is the natural business leader on the team, especially since he says, “I’ve been selling cars since I was about 12 in my hometown of Carlingford.
While Ben tinkers around with cars “from any make or model you can imagine,” Emma works with young people at a local church as a youth pastor.
Ben explains a little more about their passion for this area. “Nobody should have to feel fear of being alone – there are many demographics beyond just women on a night out. Elderly people living at home, children, etc.”
Emma explains how she came to be a mechanical engineer. “I love making stuff – I love technology and design. I like being in control of how things turn out, and that combination of maths, physics and problem solving – so engineering was a natural progression for me.”
She goes on, “Engineering allows you to create things, but also understand why things happen.”
Ben says, “I’m a big dreamer. I always like co come up with crazy things and then try to make them. I’ve always had a business head on me.”
While ambitious, the team is also realistic about their goals. Emma says, “6.8 million women in the UK will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. 80% of sexual assaults go unreported – this product will provide evidence that something happened. We know this isn’t a solution – we realise the solution is through education, and through bettering society, but until we’re at that point, this product will enable people to come forward.”
Ben backs up her realism: “The end goal isn’t for everyone to have these devices. The end goal is for people to not need these devices.”
About Bold by STAND
- The wearable is based on NB-IoT – narrow band IoT technology – meaning it has very low power consumption, so it lasts for 3-4 years without recharging
- Priced at £199, but available for pre-order through STAND’s crowdfunding campaign at £129
- The device works even if your phone dies or gets lost. It does partner through your mobile phone network, but it doesn’t need your phone to work
- A clever two-hole design means you can wear it around your neck or as a bracelet – it comes in rose gold, gold and silver
- With the rise in online dating (one statistic says 17%of recently married couples met online) it means that more young people are going out to meet strangers, and possibly feeling less confident about their safety
Bold by STAND is now a finalist in the Electronics category of the Invent Finals 2019. The Invent Final Awards night, sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK, will be held on Thursday 10thOctober. Tickets are available here.