When she was eight years old, Rajia Abdelaziz asked Santa for a computer. On Christmas morning, she awakened, not to a shiny new computer, but to a pile of boxes. Her father said, “Sometimes it’s more fun to build things yourself than to buy them already made.” The thought that she could use a bunch of random parts to create something she wanted blew her mind. The thrill and excitement of building that computer has stayed with her and has sparked her passion for engineering.
Years later, as president of the Society of Women Engineers, UMass Lowell chapter, Abdelaziz noticed attendance dropping at her weekly meetings. Curious about this trend, she asked the members why they weren’t coming. They all said the same thing: as winter approached, it got darker earlier, and they were uncomfortable walking home from the meetings at night. Abdelaziz suggested picking up some pepper spray for protection but changed her mind later when a stranger grabbed her canister of pepper spray, “just to test it.” “Luckily, that hadn’t been an emergency situation,” said Abdelaziz. “But I started thinking to myself, this guy has a weapon and I’m the person who gave him that weapon.”
Convinced there had to be a better solution, she looked for safety products online that were compact, useful, and attractive. Instead, she found big ugly panic buttons. Abdelaziz set out to devise a discreet, stylish wearable as a senior project. She created invisaWear smart jewelry and accessories. The modern design and practicality of the gold and silver jewelry made it an instant hit on campus. The project also won multiple campus awards, including first place for the most Innovative Technology Solution at the UMass Lowell DifferenceMaker competition, which gave her the seed money to start her own company. Encouraged by the demand for her product, Abdelaziz and her cofounder, Ray Hamilton, turned down several prestigious job opportunities to work on invisaWear full-time. It’s hard work, but the partners have no regrets.
The easy to use device pairs with an app on the wearer’s phone. In an emergency, the user double-clicks a button on the back of the quarter-sized invisaWear locket, which sends a signal and a precise location to as many as five pre-programmed contacts and the 911 operator. The dispatcher relays that information to police or other emergency professionals, who can pinpoint the wearer more precisely and faster.
Since the company’s inception, organizations like The Telegraph, Digital Trends, and Fox 25 News have lauded the invisaWear team for the simplicity and ingeniousness of their product. Abdelaziz was one of few women speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, recently, and possibly the youngest. She appeared as part of a panel on The Wearable Workforce. The public likes her product, too. So far, invisaWear’s Indiegogo campaign has raised 186 percent of its goal.
Abdelaziz is most content when she’s creating things to help others. “Nothing makes me happier than knowing I’m making a difference in peoples’ lives.”
It’s a good thing Santa didn’t bring her that computer.