UPDATE (Aug. 13): A spokesperson for The Defender confirmed to Global News that the device will only be available in U.S. markets at launch, however the company is looking into ways to comply with Canadian regulations.
“Pepper Spray laws in Canada are still too restrictive. The Defender can work as an identification and alert system, just by removing the pepper spray canister,” said the spokesperson via email.
“We are working with retailers in Canada now to figure out how we can get the product ready for the Canadian market.”
TORONTO – If pepper spray wasn’t already intimidating enough, a new device promises to take the self-defence product to the next level.
Dubbed “The Defender,” the device not only sprays the attacker with police-grade pepper spray, it also takes a photo of the assailant with a tiny digital camera (and a built-in flash) and automatically sends it to local authorities. Once triggered, the device also sounds an alarm to alert passersby that there may be trouble.
The Defender connects to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth with an app that can alert authorities through the company’s 24/7 monitoring system. Police will receive the user’s GPS location, along with the picture of the suspect.
Each device will come with one year of monitoring services.
The wand even doubles as a medic alert device; a second button that alerts health services in the event of a medical emergency.
The Defender has taken crowdfunding platform Indiegogo by storm.
The company reached its initial fundraising goal of US$100,000 within 24 hours and has since garnered over US$221,900 in funding. At time of publishing there were still 25 days left in The Defender’s campaign.
Self-defence products go high tech
The device is part of a larger trend of self-defence products marketed towards women that have been getting high-tech makeovers.
Toronto-based developer David Wilson is currently raising money on Indiegogo to build a USB-sized device that can instantly tell you if your drink contains any illicit substances.
Using technology that police drug enforcement agencies use to test for date rape drugs, users can dunk the device, dubbed pd.id, into their drink and wait for a red or green light to flash – if it flashes red, it means the drink has been spiked.
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Pd.id even connects with a smartphone app to tell the user what type of drug may have been used.
Other inventions range from smartphone cases with built in pepper spray, to lipstick Tasers and stun guns disguised as tampons.
The Defender is set to hit store shelves in 2015 and will retail for US$179 for the device and one year of monitoring.
It’s unclear if the device is available to be pre-ordered by Canadian residents, as the company notes it cannot ship the device internationally because of regulations.
Global News has reached out to the company to clarify if Canadian consumers will be able to purchase the device, but has not yet received a response.
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, it’s legal to carry a product designed for personal protection against another human. However, mace – which has a higher concentration of oleoresin capsicum, the chemical found in pepper spray – is considered a prohibited weapon, which makes it illegal.
The formula used in The Defender’s pepper spray meets Canadian law, according to the company’s website.
The product has come under fire for its hefty price tag, coupled with the fact that users would need to pay per year for the 24/7 monitoring system. But the device’s creators say that the monitoring system is the device’s most valuable feature.
“The service of responding to an alert and contacting the authorities is the real value,” said co-founder Ryan McManus in an interview with The Guardian.