November 26, 2018
When a victim is blindsided by an attack or a melee, the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in—and dialing 911 may not be top-of-mind. That’s exactly what customers told Arizona-based Axon when the company—which makes Tasers for self-defense and law enforcement—asked for feedback about its products.
Its solution: A new Taser that automatically alerts authorities as soon as the weapon is fired, the Washington Post reported on November 21.
“When you’re under stress and your focus narrows to getting away from someone, then small details like picking up the phone and calling 911 can escape you,” said Annie Pratt, Axon’s director of consumer products, in a recent interview. “We wanted to create a device that doesn’t require people to be in the physical mental state to remember that last step.”
To make that possible, Axon has partnered with St. Louis-based Noonlight, a company that has created an app that automatically connects users with emergency services when the Taser is activated.
When the trigger on the Taser Pulse+—a new pairing of the weapon and the app—is pulled, a beacon on the device communicates with the app, which alerts authorities that a likely emergency is unfolding. Using information from the app, including GPS, responding authorities have access to the user’s identification and location, even when someone is fleeing the scene of the incident.
“Everything happens in real-time,” Nick Droege, the co-founder of Noonlight, told the Post. “[As] we dispatch emergency services, … the user is getting a text message and a phone call from us so they can explain what’s happened, and 911 dispatchers are also seeing this information.”
“We might also have their health information, which includes information about allergies and medication use, and their picture from their profile information,” he added.
If a Taser owner presses the device’s trigger while the safety is on, Pratt told the news outlet, police aren’t alerted. If customers don’t need assistance from authorities after firing the weapon — or if someone has pulled the trigger by mistake—a user can cancel an active alarm by sharing a four-digit code after he or she receives a text from the company’s dispatchers asking them whether they need help.
The Taser Pulse+ has a 15-foot range and is designed to incapacitate someone for 30 seconds, Pratt said. The device, which includes access to Noonlight, costs about $470, according to Axon.
The company declined to reveal how many individuals have purchased its Tasers and what percentage of its customer base are individual owners vs. law enforcement agencies.
Droege said his long-term goal is to create technology that completely removes the burden of contacting authorities when someone finds themselves in an emergency situation. To get there, he said, Noonlight will partner with companies that create wearable devices and medical technology that can sense when someone is in physical distress.
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