Lifesaver iPhone Case Gives Your Smartphone A Dedicated Hardware Panic Button

The Lifesaver Case is kicking off an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign today, to fund the production of hardware that adds a unique personal safety twist to your existing iPhone. The Apple smartphone-specific case has a built-in hardware switch that contacts emergency services, and provides them with real-time location updates as well as personal information about the device’s owner.

As you can see in the video below, the Lifesaver Case transmits live GPS coordinates from the phone, as well as sends over your personal details, plus triggers recording via your iPhone’s video camera and microphone recording. When the switch is triggered (which requires both a push and slide to prevent accidental activation), it starts transmitting data and recording without displaying any indicators on the screen, making it usable without alerting any potential attacker.

I spoke with Lifesaver Case founder and CEO Jon Powell, who explained how the Lifesaver Case works: Essentially, it’s an app-enabled hardware accessory, that uses a hardwired connection to your iPhone to trigger the operation of the Lifesaver iPhone app. Powell said it was necessary to take a plugged in approach and get Apple MFI program approval to make sure that the app would run permanently in the background while the case was on.

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The inspiration for the Lifesaver iPhone case is both personal and simple: Powell’s daughter faced an incident where a stranger tried to accost her on the way to school, and he realized that this situation is all too common. Response to such threats could be greatly improved, Powell and his team believed.

“What we’ve found was that the downfall with these developers coming up with just an app [Guardly for one], is that while it sounds like a great idea, the biggest problem is if someone is in a life-threatening situation […] are they realistically going to have time to unlock a device, open an app and hit a panic button to call for help,” Powell said in an interview.

Powell and his co-founders have been building the Lifesaver Case for around a year and a half now, and have invested over $100,000 of their own funds to build a working prototype and get to this stage. They’re seeking an additional $100,000 from the Indiegogo campaign to take the final step and get the case production-ready and shipping. It works with the iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and 5c, offers a degree of impact resistance, and has pass-through charging via micro USB. While this first version is iPhone-only, Powell says they plan to support leading Android devices, too, once they meet their goal.

Backers can pre-order the Lifesaver Case starting at $59, and the team hopes to ship devices to supporters beginning in August.