Panic Button Invented To Make College Students Safer

Handheld device alerts emergency contacts, 911

Experts say one in ten college students will experience sexual assault and many are at higher risk in their first few months at school.  So, what happens when a student is in danger of any kind, but they can’t call friends, family or even the police for help?

A gadget invented right here in the Sioux Empire could soon come to their rescue.

The Tiny Knight is a mobile panic button that uses GPS and cellular technology to reach out for help when you need it most.  Ty Dillabough the president of the Tiny Knight company and one of the inventors of the device.

“We thought of ‘What’s a giant problem? And what’s the most simplistic solution?’  So, big problem being campus violence and crime.  Most simplistic solution is just increasing communication,” Dillabough explains.

Campus violence is an issue that’s close to him because he’s a college student.  The 22-year-old is a freshman at Northern State University in Aberdeen.  What started as an idea to curb a problem is now a business.

“We want to get this in students’ hands as fast and as efficient as possible,” he says.

The Tiny Knight is paired with a cell phone app and website to send alerts and show your location.  Depending on how many times you click the button, it’ll notify emergency contacts and first responders.

There’s even a timer built in, which means Tiny Knight will still send out alerts if you can’t click the button during an emergency or attack.  Because it can do so much on its own, it stands out from other devices.

“We don’t need a cell phone to work.  When somebody gets attacked and they get disconnected from their cell phone, that’s their lifeline, and without a cellphone people are left so vulnerable,” Dillabough says.

Eliminating that vulnerability is an idea that Dillabough came up with six months ago.

Now, the process is almost complete.

“We are beta-testing it right now with students.  We have quite a few positive results,” he says.

The company is also looking for a positive response from the community.  That’s why Dillabough was at the Governor’s Giant Vision Student Competition in Sioux Falls last week pitching the invention and going after a prize of $5,000.  He’s also reaching out to colleges in and out of South Dakota to include the price of Tiny Knight in the cost of students’ school tuition and fees.  That way, every student gets one.

“The students who need the device aren’t the students who want the device.  Because those are the students who are going to take more risks,” he says.

Dillabough won’t say what the price of the gadget will be or which schools he’s negotiating with, but the hope is to have Tiny Knight available to some this fall.

“Either one larger school or a few smaller schools.  What’s going to make Tiny Knight successful is not how many units we sell but how many people we can help,” Dillabough adds.

The Tiny Knight did not win prize money in the Giant Vision competition.  But, the company is planning on doing a Kickstarter fundraiser this summer.

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