Andy, Will It Work? The Defender

TUESDAY AT 10: Andy, Will It Work? The Defender
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Pepper-spray an attacker, pop his picture, send it to police. Instantly.

The Defender turns pepper spray up a notch as a new standard in self-defense.

The Defender is still a work in progress. We got our hands on it before it hits the consumer protection market this fall.

But our test of its prototype proves it meets its claim of combining "…identification, alert, defense and response."

The $99 device is integrated with The Defender's central station – like a home security system's 24-hour monitoring service ($15/month). Buy the device, download the app to an iPhone or Android device, register and you're ready.

When the button's pressed, an alarm sounds. Mace-brand pepper spray shoots out and a light flashes as The Defender snaps a picture of the assailant.

"It's sent via Bluetooth to an IOS or Android device. We grab that photo and your GPS coordinates to be able to dispatch help to your exact location anywhere in the U.S., 24-7," said The Defender's Chief Marketing Officer Ryan McManus. "The picture immediately goes to your phone, and it goes to our cloud, so it's stored.

"Even if the attacker were to steal your phone or your Defender, we've already captured (the attacker's picture), and it's on its way to police."

In its final design, The Defender will be incorporated into the National Emergency Number Association's (NENA) database so that a user's Defender will connect to the closest 911 dispatch. The user will also be able to program the app so that the picture and GPS coordinates are sent instantly via text or e-mail to five family members or friends. It will also include a medical alert button to contact authorities in a medical emergency.

Kristina Beard, self-defense instructor for USA Karate in Bartlett, TN, and I played with the prototype. The picture it took of me caught me as I was blasted by the propellant (water, not pepper spray for this purpose!). So I'm falling and squinting – but it could certainly be admissible as evidence of a suspect. It is, however, very easy to cover The Defender's camera lens with your finger, so like any other self-defense device, it takes training and practice.

Beard loves The Defender's concept of instant defense, suspect identification and alerts to law enforcement and personal contacts at the touch of a button. But she does have concerns about the audio announcement the prototype emits after the button's pressed: "Your picture and GPS coordinates have been sent to law enforcement!"

"I'd be concerned that may really frustrate and make my attacker very angry," Beard noted. "They may have only wanted my purse. Now they're so mad, they may want to take me or hurt me worse. That would be my only concern."

Remember, The Defender is a prototype. Its developers could decide to remove the warning announcement.

But even if an attacker swiped it from you, you'd still have the evidence.

"We still have evidence of who my attacker is, and we can still catch this guy," Beard admitted. "I love that."

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