The creators of Yellow Jacket, a unique combination of smartphone case and stun gun, think this product could be the answer to New York City's most frequent crime: iPhone theft. "Legalize our device and [it] would stop overnight," says co-founder and CEO Sean Simone.
The Yellow Jacket is a pretty basic rubber iPhone case that snaps on to a larger attachment; it holds a battery pack and electric prongs. The device takes about four hours to get to full charge. After that, the Yellow Jacket can be used to double the battery life of an iPhone or zap a wannabe mugger about 50 times.
The previous models of the Yellow Jacket sometimes left users with a dilemma: use that last bit of charge to keep the party going, or conserve it in case something bad goes down? The newest models, released today for the iPhone 5C and 5S, remove that uncertainty. "Our new Yellow Jacket always holds a bit of reserve charge so you'll be able to defend yourself," says Simone.
The first versions of the Yellow Jacket, built for the iPhone 4 and 4S, were $99. The new version, introduced here at CES 2014, will cost $149 but the company has added on some extra juice. The case now produces 950,000 volts and 1.3 milliamps, up from 650,000 volts and 0.8 milliamps. I sampled both versions. The first-generation Yellow Jacket felt like a bee sting, painful but not debilitating. The second generation felt far stronger and caused the muscles in my arm to spasm.
"There are a lot of different weapons you could stick on this bad boy."
The Yellow Jacket doesn't have much competition from other smartphone stun guns. But a company named Spraytect makes a phone case with built-in pepper spray that retails for a much more affordable $39.95. But while the Yellow Jacket seems like a clear-cut piece of hardware, the founders would prefer you think of it more as platform. "There are a lot of different weapons you could stick on this bad boy. Instead of a Taser it could carry a flashlight or a knife," says Simone. "That's all in the works."