|A new local product puts self-defense in your pocket|
When Seth Froom answered a knock at his door, he assumed it was just another friend showing up to join a small gathering at his apartment.
Instead, he was robbed at gunpoint. The assailant attempted to shoot Froom, but the weapon miraculously misfired. The man took several valuable items from Froom before fleeing, including his iPhone.
Oddly, the criminal left the case that had been attached to the phone.
Froom describes the experience as “traumatic, scarring and life-changing,” but it left him with a question: Why not combine an iPhone case with a self-defense stun gun?
“I started wondering, ‘How could I have prevented [the robbery]?’” Froom says. “From there I started sketching and came up with the idea of combing a smart phone case and a stun gun.”
As violent crime becomes an ever larger subject of conversation on Baton Rouge, Froom’s new product, the YellowJacket, aims to change the subject.
Recently, the YellowJacket won the Student Incubator Venture Challenge, an entrepreneurial contest hosted by the Louisiana Business and Technology Center at LSU. The competition awarded the four finalists, which included YellowJacket, a portion of the $20,000 prize.
In the past three years in the Tigerland area near LSU, there have been multiple beatings, robberies, sexual assaults and murders. Froom and his business partner Sean Simone hope YellowJacket can help Baton Rouge residents and LSU students to protect themselves.
In addition to the 650,000-volt punch it packs, the case can emit a flashing light and a loud noise to ward off potential attackers. The YellowJacket case also contains an extra 16- to 20-hour battery charge for the iPhone itself.
“It protects your phone, and it protects your life,” Froom says. “The whole point of the YellowJacket is for it to be loud, painful and disorienting.”
Despite the hefty 650,000 volts, the YellowJacket, like most consumer stun guns, is not lethal. Its design prevents the electrical charge from affecting the phone. Stun guns are legal in 44 states, including Louisiana.
“It’s your right to use it, but its use has to be justified,” says Corporal Tommy Stubbs of the Baton Rouge Police Department. “As long as you use it appropriately, the Constitution supports it.”
Froom himself has been shocked with the device as a test and says it is painful and disorienting, but far from life-threatening.
“It’s not lethal—even though it’s a high voltage, it’s a low amperage,” he says. “We’ve taken many safety and legal precautions.”
Similar in size and weight to an Otterbox Defender iPhone case, YellowJacket is designed to prevent users from shocking themselves accidentally. It features a recessed safety button and a cap for the business end of the stun gun.
Stubbs also says a weapon such as a stun gun can be used for self-defense as long as the user is not a convicted felon.
“We’re essentially taking a product that’s already on the market and incorporating it into an iPhone case to make it easier to use,” Simone says. “We want people to be able to have protection if they need it.”
The entrepreneurs plan to ?expand into other smart phone models after the YellowJacket enters the market.
The YellowJacket will be available online later this month and will retail for approximately $124.99. yellowjacketcase.com
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