The Defender brings pepper spray into the modern era, adding 24-7 monitoring, automatic police alerts, and a camera that captures photos of assailants.
CNET freelancer Anthony Domanico is passionate about all kinds of gadgets and apps. When not making words for the Internet, he can be found watching Star Wars or "Doctor Who" for like the zillionth time. His other car is a Tardis.
If you've ever been robbed or mugged, you know how terrifying such an experience can be both in the short- and long-term. Months and even years after the event, you may find yourself constantly looking over your shoulder, hyper-aware of everything around you and worried that an assault might happen again.
Ryan McManus, the victim of a home invasion, knows those feelings well, and says they're one reason he's passionate about The Defender, a new product he co-founded that looks like pepper spray, but functions as a full-fledged personal-security solution.
Press the button at the top of The Defender and point it at the baddie and it snaps a photo, alerts both the cops and a 24-7 monitoring service that a crime is in progress, and subdues the person with pepper spray. Oh, and it blares an alarm. It's not quite the same as having a lightsaber katana at your side, but it might be the next best thing.
Thwarting thieves isn't the only thing The Defender does, however. A medical button on the device (fortunately located far away from the pepper spray button so you don't accidentally spray yourself) will alert first responders when you're experiencing a medical emergency.
To promote the product, which is currently running an Indiegogo campaign, the folks behind The Defender have asked people to share their stories in a video series titled "My Story." The first video features Boonsri Dickinson, a former CNET writer who had her iPhone stolen while walking home one night. In the video, she says that she lost much more than her smartphone that night. She also lost her sense of security.
The Defender is expected to launch by the end of 2014. The company has already raised more than $225,000 on Indiegogo, more than double the original goal of $100,000. Should you choose to contribute, you can get The Defender with one year of the 24-7 monitoring service for as little as $179. After the first year, the service runs $14.99 per month for Indiegogo backers, and between $14.99 and $19.99 per month for everyone else.