This wearables start-up is developing jewellery to keep you safe

29 Jul 2019

Stand co-founders Emma McQuiggan and Ben Lindsay. Image: TechWatch

Stand is one of 12 finalists in the upcoming Invent 2019 competition. TechWatch’s Emily McDaid spoke to founders Ben Lindsay and Emma McQuiggan to find out more.

Two engineering graduates from Queen’s University Belfast have designed Bold by Stand, a piece of wearable technology that you put on like jewellery, which aims to keeps you safe. It 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, with one of the following:

  • 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 Lindsay and McQuiggan 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 every day,” Lindsay 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.

Lindsay is taking on Stand on as his full-time job, while McQuiggan will work for the start-up while also doing a graduate job with a natural gas company. “I’m very interested in energy,” she says.

Lindsay is the natural business leader on the team. “I’ve been selling cars since I was about 12 in my hometown of Carlingford,” he says.

While he tinkers around with cars “from any make or model you can imagine”, McQuiggan works with young people at a local church as a youth pastor.

Lindsay 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.”

‘The end goal isn’t for everyone to have these devices. The end goal is for people to not need these devices’

McQuiggan 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.

“Engineering allows you to create things, but also understand why things happen,” she adds.

Lindsay, meanwhile, describes himself as “a big dreamer”. “I always like to 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 its goals. McQuiggan says: “6.8m women in the UK will experience sexual assault in their lifetimes. 80pc 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.”

Lindsay 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 – narrowband IoT technology – meaning it has very low power consumption, so it lasts for three to four years without recharging
  • It is priced at £199, but is 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
  • The rise in online dating (one statistic says 17pc of recently married couples met online) means that more young people are going out to meet strangers, and possibly feeling less confident about their safety

By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch

Stand is a finalist in the annual Invent competition run by Catalyst, aiming to showcase the best and brightest innovators that Northern Ireland has to offer. Invent 2019 will take place on Thursday 10 October in Belfast, where 12 finalists will battle it out for a £33,000 prize fund.

TechWatch by Catalyst covered tech developments in Northern Ireland