What can keep you safe when you are out on a run?
That’s the questioned that David and Ellen Caren asked before coming up with run angel in 2013.
The husband and wife team, along with the help of an extensive team of engineers, app developers, acoustic experts, industry mentors and security advisors, developed a personal safety wearable for runners, joggers, students, overseas travellers and revellers that emits a loud 120dB high-pitched audible alarm when activated, and pairs with smartphone devices over Bluetooth to send out alerts in the event of an emergency, showing your location.
Prior to developing run angel, Ellen worked as a concessions manager for the Brown Thomas Fashion Retail Group and David worked in the music industry predominantly in music management and A&R.
David, run angel co-founder, said: “The impetus for run angel was born out of an unfortunate encounter while on an early morning run.
“After passing a woman out running alone I was knocked to the ground by a hooded figure, when I got to my feet the guy had ran back in the direction he had come from. It didn’t hit me until I was back into my run that this guy was actually pursuing the lone female runner only moments earlier. This sat with me for quite sometime afterwards.
“At the same time I would often come in from training and tell my wife of situations where I’d seen women out running alone at night. It wasn’t until Ellen began running herself several years ago that she not only was able to see this for herself, but she too experienced a sense of vulnerability a runner often feels when out alone.
“We researched what was available to a runner which could deter an attack and alert passersby. We found personal safety devices that were quite cumbersome, that would not be considered as a neat wrist worn wearable by the running community and that also lacked the smart messaging capabilities that is found with run angel.”
And it was a challenge to develop run angel into what it is today.
David said: “We have spent several years perfecting the design of our product. It has been an ultramarathon journey to say the least, making something so small sound loud was no easy feat.
“Our USP pertains to the patent pending design of our acoustic chamber. We have built a chamber that emits 120dB when activated from run angel, or remotely from our mobile applications. Our electronics design has also been tuned to a frequency level to enable the sound to be more susceptible to human hearing, thereby attracting greater attention in an emergency.
“Both chamber and the electronics design have been carefully constructed to fit neatly on a wrist – which presented immense challenges in itself.”
As the product has a unique acoustic element to it David and Ellen first set about surrounding themselves with the right team who could assist them in bringing their vision to market.
David added: “We not only invested personally but were fortunate to receive funding from our local government office. We worked with several universities on the design front, enlisted the help of running clubs to conduct focus group interviews throughout all stages of development and assigned a great deal of our budget on building prototypes.
“Any business attempting to raise investment for a connected hardware product will appreciate the immense challenges that this presents. We made the conscious decision early on not to approach potential investors until the hardware was near completion. In addition to this, that our IP folder was of significant bulk and a manufacturing and distribution contract had also been secured.
“The investors we identified as a good fit for run angel understood what we were championing immediately. We needed private investment to bring run angel to market but it also needed to be from the right investors too.”
It is worth noting that run angel is manufactured in the UK and Ireland, which is considered very unusual for a wearable technology product.
David added: “The vast majority of wearable tech companies travel to the Asian markets to build their products. We believe when it comes to personal safety you cannot afford to compromise on the build quality and reliability of your product, that the end user should feel confident that what they are buying stands up to what it says it can do. There should be no short cuts to the finish line when safety is concerned.”
The primary target of run angel are joggers and runners, however, David believes that it also has advantages for other users.
He added: “We feel all demographics, especially other lifestyle interests, can benefit greatly from run angel including cyclists, hill walkers and climbers. Run angel can also be considered an essential piece of kit should you suffer a personal injury or a medical condition that requires immediate nearby help and your listed guardians notified.”