Introducing Eyerus: Home-grown, internationally patented gender-based violence response app

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Eyerus caught the eye of the Zulu monarch Misuzulu kaZwelithini. Photo: Sourced
Eyerus caught the eye of the Zulu monarch Misuzulu kaZwelithini. Photo: Sourced

NEWS


As the country observes 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children while reeling from allegations of rape and sexual misconduct against TV presenter and musician Jub Jub, a small company has launched an application to help stem gender-based violence.

“Every morning we [wake up to] news of something horrible happening to a woman or child. This sparked four individuals from different backgrounds to come together to create the strongest solution possible,” says Eyerus founder and funder Robert Bentele.

You’re probably familiar with Bentele if you follow reality TV show Survivor SA. He won the seventh season in 2019.

Bentele worked in collaboration with a group that includes Sibusiso Mbhele, who he says “has a deep knowledge and background in telematics, vehicle tracking and fleet management”; Sakhi Ngwenya, who owns a prominent security company; and businessman Phumlani Ngwenya. Their efforts have garnered the support and influence of Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini.

At the launch of the app in Parktown, Johannesburg, on December 2, Misuzulu said the app was going to be a massive innovation in fighting violence against women and children.

How does Eyerus work?

Bentele explained: “Initially, using live streaming for security was the foundation of our unique value proposition, but it grew exponentially from there. The team added everything possible into Eyerus to create a full-rounded solution.”

“Eyerus can automatically detect if you’re drugged, incapacitated or unconscious. The team has packed in so many features into this. Eyerus has an international patent because it’s a world-first.”

READ: 16 Days of Activism | Justice served

It took the co-founders just over a year to get to this stage. Every time they thought the app was complete, they would realise a scenario they hadn’t covered and go straight back to the drawing board.

“That is how features such as Check-in, Dead Man Trigger and the wearable technology were brought to life. Simply put, Eyerus operates in four modes – green is safe and amber means caution. When one activates this state, Eyerus switches on your microphone and starts live streaming all evidence to a secure cloud in real time. It also begins tracking your location.”

“Red is danger [and when this mode activated] Eyerus switches on your camera and starts streaming all evidence to a secure cloud. While the stream goes, the app alerts your pre-assigned guardians, allowing them to view what’s happening to you in real time and see your location. All this happens at the click of a button.

READ: Ramaphosa: Men should take centre stage in combating gender-based violence

Bentele said that in red mode a sane person would stop all aggression because the evidence has already left the phone. However, if this doesn’t deter an assailant, you can escalate the alert to blue:

Blue continues live streaming to your cloud and guardians, but also alerts private security. Think of this as the Uber of armed response. Eyerus knows where you are and instantly finds the nearest armed security vehicle to you. They are dispatched in real time with an average response time of five to eight minutes in urban areas.



This mode can be activated quickly and discreetly by simply shaking your phone.

“Green, amber and red [alert modes] are free of charge. However, premium features such as armed security response are a great cost to Eyerus meaning, it they are sold at a premium. It costs R59 per user, but discounts are offered if one covers more people,” said Bentele.

He boasted having 3 600 armed boots on the ground in the nine provinces that are connected.

READ: There’s a problem with mourning Covid-19 and gender-based violence concurrently – they are not the same

“When we began the project, we had 50 000 reported rape cases per year in South Africa. Today that figure is 66 000. We do warn that the release of Eyerus will cause those numbers to significantly rise at first. This is because the women who are afraid of reporting [incidents will do so now] due to the strong body of evidence Eyerus will allow then to compile.”

“The technology behind Eyerus is all existing technology. However, bringing it all together under one app proved to be extremely challenging. Yes, there are some solutions that have one or two of our features, but no one in South Africa – in the world – has thought of bringing it all together like this. The challenge of making every feature to work together was a monumental task, but our development team overcame everything. We’re extremely proud of the work they’ve done and cannot wait to give it to the country.”

Eyerus goes live on iOS, Google Play and App Gallery on February 13 2022. It will be free to download in South Africa.


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Phumlani S Langa 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
Phumlani.Sithebe@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park


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