Leaf Wearables' mission to make 1 million families safer starts with smart necklaces

We chat to the Indian smart jewellery startup about SOS alerts and selfies
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Safer is a smart necklace, which connects to the wearer's phone over Bluetooth and sends SOS alerts with your whereabouts to friends and family when tapped twice. Guardians can be preset in the companion app and there's also the option to share your location on a map in real time while travelling.

So far, so standard. But Safer also lasts seven days between charges, the crystal pendant looks as pretty as regular costume jewellery and very cleverly, will send a text message when your phone can't reliably connect to the internet. Safer costs just $60 on a stainless steel necklace or $40 as a standalone device and comes in green, blue and black.

Leaf Wearables started selling Safer on Indian crowdfunding platform Ketto on 1 December and has already had 1,200 pre-orders. The team, made up of co-founders Avinash Bansal, Ayush Banka, Manik Mehta and Paras Batrasay, says that makes it India's most successful crowdfunding campaign, units have already started shipping and it is also now selling in Turkey.

"This is not just a problem for India," said Manik Mehta, director of finance and strategy. "This is a problem across the globe so we will sell it globally."

The team of five engineers, who all recently graduated from DTU and IIT Delhi universities, were spurred into action by UN statistics like this one: every 12.5 seconds a girl is molested around the globe.

Leaf Wearables' mission to make 1 million families safer starts with smart necklaces

"We were shocked and astounded at what the world has come to. As humans, we have to help humans. If we can make sure that all you loved ones get to know you are unsafe, I believe we can make a huge difference," said Mehta. "Safer tells everyone there is a person here is in distress - the authorities, friends and family, community."

Now, the startup's mission is to make one million families safer around the globe. That starts with women who think they don't need this type of tech. Every woman has been there, acting like a total badass all day then feeling guilty when we're walking alone at night in a big city, or travelling abroad, and we don't feel safe. Sometimes for good reason.

"One of our interns, she worked with us for a while and she didn't believe this could help," explained Mehta. "She was returning from Canada and she was in a taxi at 4am in New Delhi. The taxi drove off in a different direction, the driver told her it was to get gas, and she got panicky. She called our co-founder and said 'Can you just talk to me?' She was our first customer."

This month, the startup also announced it has raised $250,000 in investment and it was recently chosen as one of the top 10 innovative startups by India's Department of Science and Technology.

Safer also handles notifications and can act as a selfie button but these are very much added extras on top of the core feature. It features a 90dB buzzer to act as an alarm and it recharges in 15 minutes via Micro USB. Next year, Leaf Wearables will turn to making a safety device for kids. The startup also wants to create wearables to keep elderly people safe, with tweaked features for each new product.

"We need more innovative ways of communicating. We will need to change the device as kids don't always carry around a smartphone," said Mehta. "They will all be affordable, though. It doesn't make sense to just build smartwatches, it should help people."


How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

Related stories