Smart Technology to Aid Human Trafficking Victims

Twin Sisters America and Penelope Lopez at Cal State LA

Mexican American twin sisters, America and Penelope Lopez were teenagers when their aunt was abducted and sold into a human trafficking ring while crossing the Mexico-US border.

Although their aunt managed to escape her captors by crawling out of a public bathroom window, the girls were deeply affected by the event, and smart enough to realize most girls and women aren’t so lucky, so they decided to do something about it.

America and Penelope, dubbed “The Cyber Code Twins” are in the process of developing “Beacon of Hope,” a tracking device that can turn a tampon or pad into a distress signal; here’s how it works:

The tiny devices¬†are meant to be hidden inside tampons and sanitary napkins, where the victim will be able to stow it away inside her purse or pocket. Once activated, the device will send a signal that will alert law enforcement, who will then be able to track the victim’s location.

The beacons will be available in women’s public restrooms, because human trafficking victims often report this is the only place they are allowed privacy, if only for a few moments. ¬†The goal would be to make these devices available at restrooms in gas stations, highway rest stops, stadiums, and casinos.

The devices use Gimbal’s iBeacon technology, along with the technologies of IBM Watson, AT&T Smart Cities, Intel Edison and AT&T Flow Designer. At the time of the writing of this post, the Lopez sisters are working to make advancements to the functionality of the devices.

America and Penelope Lopez were raised in the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects in East Los Angeles, and they graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School. They now attend Cal State LA, and they aspire to careers in technology via their own start-up, as well as to be role models for other Latinos interested in tech. Check out their website to learn more: Cyber Code Twins.