A new phone protection case turns the smartphone into a weapon and explosive detector. Image of the SWORD app scanning a guy. (Image via Royal Holdings)
Every owner of a smartphone knows that it is wise to protect the device. For that purpose, companies rival with all kind of cases: from the minimalist ones to the multi-functional ones that offer more than just protection for the phone. One of those multi-function protection cases is redefining how security is ensured. With that phone case comes the promise of a safer and more responsible world. But can it deliver on that?
SWORD is the “baby” of Royal Holding, a California-based startup that has the mission of facilitating threat detection. Often, when a company decides to provide safety tools, many justly question the credibility of the provider. The question is why should anyone trust that the company knows what it’s doing; and for Royal Holdings, the answer is simply that the CEO of the company, Barry Oberholzer was previously an informant for the Department of Homeland Security and also worked with the FBI. Talking about credibility, this guy should know what it takes to provide security and safety.
Sword is a case that fits only the iPhone 8 Plus or the Pixel 2 XL and uses the phone’s sound waves as “radar” to discover any hidden weapon such as a knife, a gun or even a bomb. The case is adapted to only those 2 phones because they are the right size and the position of their cameras made it easier to work with. Equipped with 18 antennas, the case can create a visual of the threat detected based on the waves of that object. Once SWORD is ready for sale, it is expected that it will make checking for safety hazards or weapons less intrusive in many instances. The convenience of having such accessory attached to an everyday device like a phone will also allow anyone to enforce a no weapon zone. A tool like could have prevented the numerous shootings that happened over the last couple of years. Now, suicide bombs or school shooting could be prevented. Oberholzer confirmed in a recent interview that the proverb “Prevention is better than cure” is the driving force of all Royal Holdings’ projects.
For now, all the claims around SWORD are still hypothetical. However, the first prototype will be available by August of this year, and the projections place the first final products on the market for sale by the end of the first term of 2019. Those interested in the device can preorder it for $950 or wait to pay the full price of $1,250. In addition to the case, customers will have to pay $30 monthly for the ongoing service. Obviously, SWORD is not for every pocket, but the company reported having already 8,000 pre-orders; most of which came from private security companies, casinos and even a school district. Nonetheless, is it really a surprise? If the average person can afford the latest iPhone, buying SWORD should be a piece of cake.
SWORD is nothing without its software. The user is able to scan people as far as 40 feet away thanks to the app. Once the “radar” detects a potential threat, it will compare it to the app’s database to clearly identify the type of weapon. So far SWORD has not made a mistake, and the CEO explains that to maintain and even improve the level of accuracy, the company will be adding AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning technology to SWORD.
Furthermore, SWORD can also identify wanted people. Users can plug in the app pictures of wanted individuals or people on some blacklists. That feature pushes the security to the next level, allowing the users to scan rooms for any suspicious individual. Hopefully, this feature will not start a witch hunt.
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