Yellow Jacket Device Creates Buzz
Personal defense in the palm of your hand
By Noel MarcantelPosted Jun 20, 2012
A brand new take on an old weapon is making personal defense a lot more personal. The Yellow Jacket is a functional iPhone case that is also a stun gun. The idea fuses two different devices into one platform for ultimate availability.
Yellow Jacket is the brainchild of two 23-year-old Baton Rouge entrepreneurs who became inventors by necessity. Co-founders Seth Froom and Sean Simone forged the concept following a robbery in which Froom, an Army policeman, was the victim.
“It was in my house and I had couple of friends over,” Froom recalled, “I heard a scratch at the door – it sounded strange, like a dog or something. I opened the door and then got robbed. It was actually the second time I’ve been robbed in my home.”
Froom had taken the time to prepare his home for an attack, but it was not enough. He kept a shotgun upstairs and he also had a stun gun disguised as a cell phone in another room. When he answered the door that night, neither was within reach and therefore both were ultimately ineffective.
The burglar did not physically harm Froom, but he came very close at one point to ending his life. The incident left its mark.
“The man actually pulled the trigger at some point,” Froom said as he recounted the attack. “There’s no plausible explanation why the round didn’t discharge. I’m lucky to be alive in that sense, but it was really damaging for about a month afterward.”
Froom was forced to give up his wallet and a few belongings, but also, most importantly, his phone.
“I kept going back to the robbery, replaying it in my mind…the only opportunity I had to engage him was when he asked for my phone.”
When unpacking a bag weeks later, Froom found his fake cell phone stun gun and an empty iPhone case. Because of the bulky size of the stun gun and its obvious lack of daily utility, Froom had stopped carrying it long ago. After setting the device on the counter inside the empty iPhone case, the idea began formulating in his head. If he could invent a functional stun gun in the form of a functional cell phone case, he could put a life-saving weapon in the most available place possible at all times: a person’s hands and pockets.
To invent the product, Froom taught himself the basics of electrical engineering and circuitry. He studied the makeup of traditional stun guns with their transistors and capacitors. He soon had the basic internal design mapped out.
“I’m not creating a product on the novel idea that this might protect you,” Froom said. “I’m creating a product because I, myself, need this. If I had had this [during the robbery], things could have played out differently.”
To bring his design to fruition, Froom sought out the help of an experienced stun gun builder through the social network LinkedIn.
“We found a guy in Little Rock, Arkansas, Billy Pennington, and he was the difference maker from there,” Froom explained. “He has been making stun guns for 20-plus years and he helped me find Sean.”
Sean Simone is the driving force behind Yellow Jacket’s marketing, sales, and fundraising campaigns. Once Pennington was on board, Sean went to work doing the necessary market research. Upon investigation, the men found no U.S. patents for a device like theirs. From there, they built a prototype and started creating buzz about the Yellow Jacket device and reaching out for support to fuel their start-up.
“We want to make people aware that we are launching online and that they can get this product for $100 for the next 45 days, or they can wait to get it at a retail store for $125 in two months,” said Simone.
“It benefits [locals] to support us – number one: because we’re a Louisiana company and we’re trying to take this thing national, and number two: this product is going to be at a substantial discount if they get on the train early,” Froom said.
What makes the Yellow Jacket, classified as a stun gun, different from a Taser? When activated with a trigger, a Taser fires two barbs with wires trailing behind each. Their purpose is to penetrate the skin and deliver seven continuous seconds of low voltage and high-amperage shock into the target. Serialized confetti is also released in order to identify the person who deployed the barbs. While very effective at incapacitating a target, Tasers must be fired accurately, from a distance, and at lightly covered or exposed skin. If any one of those pieces is missing from the equation, the Taser will be ineffective. In some cases, targets have been killed by the shock a Taser delivers.
According to an Amnesty International press release dated February 15, 2012, over 500 people have been killed by Tasers since 2001. Stun guns, such as the Yellow Jacket device, are somewhat different.
Stun guns, as opposed to Tasers, deliver a high voltage and low amperage shock in a short burst, disrupting the body’s neuro-muscular communication without seizing muscles like the heart. This greatly reduces the chance of a fatality. A stun gun, such as the Yellow Jacket device, cannot incapacitate a target from a distance, but must be activated at close range. This is a disadvantage aggressively, but defensively it gives the Yellow Jacket the edge over the Taser because of the close nature of most attacks.
The higher voltage and lower amperage delivered by a stun gun localizes the shock to the area of contact and allows the operator to deliver follow-on blows to an assailant without absorbing the shock himself or herself.
“With this being a little more practical and a little less lethal [than a Taser], from a hand-to-hand combat standpoint, this is very effective,” Simone said, referring to his product.
The creators of the Yellow Jacket device have thoroughly tested their prototype for safety and effectiveness, even shocking each other during presentations. The greatest priority was making it safe and practical for customers to carry around casually with a safety selector switch and hinged cover over the twin prods. Effectiveness was the next priority.
“Zero-to-one full second will drop most people to their knees,” Froom said. “Two to three seconds and you’ll probably be knocked out and wake up on the ground.”
Froom and Simone emphasize that proper application of their product is what will save lives. They recommend taking their product to a self-defense class and asking an instructor to demonstrate proper use. They also believe that having the device in your hands while operating your phone as usual raises situational awareness, allowing you to recognize possible threats early.
The mission of Yellow Jacket is clear and the ambition of its creators is driving its development forward through an application to Kickstarter. If the application is approved, their Kickstarter will launch within a week.
“Every other phone case on the market provides protection for only the phone, but our phone case provides protection for both your phone and you,” explained Froom. “I hope you buy this case and it serves as nothing but an extra battery for your phone…but in the event something gets out of hand, you are protected.”
For more information about the Yellow Jacket stun gun case, visit www.YellowJacketCase.com.