How Wearables are Addressing Women’s Safety
Photo Credit: Women's Safety XPrize - Leaf Wearables, XPrize Recipient
Back in January we shared “9 Wearable Trends for Health and Fitness in 2018.” As a follow-up, we wanted to share the results of the Women’s Safety X Prize contest—a contest designed to look at how wearables, targeted for women, can help protect against violence and harassment.
Social researcher Jackson Katz, author of “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help,” includes an excerpt on how he attempts to explain to men why women are so exasperated with the issue of sexual assault”
"I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?”
The unbalanced lists (“nothing” for men, and 35 items for women, including the four examples above) make it clear that women are much more concerned about their safety. You can see the full list in this viral post here.
While ultimately the solution lies with those who commit assault to stop committing assault, it’s important for women, and frankly anyone who feels potentially unsafe, to be able to protect themselves.
In January, we looked at wearable trends for health and fitness, and included the Women’s Safety XPRIZE, a worldwide competition between teams who aim to create technology with “a transformative solution that ensures women’s safety” for a $1,000,000 prize.
They started the year with 21 final entrants. Now, a winner has been determined, and it’s possible to buy some of the products from the final contestants.
Leaf Wearables won the million dollar prize with their technology SAFER, which serves as a watch with a panic button, location-sharing, and navigation to the closest hospitals and police stations. Its battery life lasts seven days, after which, it’s rechargeable, and it doesn’t need a smartphone to operate it. However, unfortunately, it’s currently sold out on their website, and it’s unclear if it will come back into stock.
Final entrant Nimb also created a device that includes a panic button, as a ring rather than a watch, which is possible to buy on their website. Its sleek, minimalist design comes in “classic white” and “stealth black” -- which makes it not an obvious protection device, but helps it blend in as a piece of jewelry. If you feel unsafe, all you have to do is press the discreet button on the ring to send out an alert: to friends, 911, and Nimb members nearby. The corresponding Nimb app makes this contact and location-tracking possible.
If you want to help fund more technology like this, one of the contestants, Soterra, is still raising the necessary capital to create their device. The Soterra team is designing their device to be universal, and able to connect to both predetermined close contacts and emergency responders without the need for internet. They claim that it’s more cost effective and accurate in its location tracking than the current market standards—two qualities that make it very helpful for women in developing countries. Learn more about their work on their website or follow them on Instagram.