Don’t Just Count My Steps, Protect Them

Don’t Just Count My Steps, Protect Them

I am currently in the middle of a three month secondment with our New York office. This is of course an amazing opportunity. But being a twenty-something girl, often walking around alone in a big and unfamiliar city, I have probably thought more about my safety in the past month or so than at any other point in my life.

Let’s cut to the chase. Obviously, I shouldn’t have to worry about this. If a man is walking behind me on a dark street, or if I’m alone in a cab, I should feel just as safe and secure as I do making my way through the city in the morning rush hour. But the brutal reality, as we all know too well, is that this is still a relatively far off ideal.

Assuming change ain’t gonna come for a while, what measures can an independent, but rightly cautious, individual like me take?

There are a number of products in the wearables category that have been specifically designed to protect individuals against sexual assaults.

Indian start-up Leaf Wearables sell a pendant that doubles as a panic button, and can be controlled by an accompanying smartphone app that can be used to alert specified ‘guardians’ to your whereabouts via GPS.

In a similar vein, Nimb is a smart ring that contains a panic button, allowing the wearer to alert friends, family, emergency services and other Nimb users to their location.

At the heart of it, none of this technology is that complicated. Panic & alert buttons for the elderly have existed for years to contact carers if they get into trouble, and GPS tracking is nothing new.

To me the logical next step for me seems to be for existing wearables brands to bring this functionality on board. It may be technologically a simple innovation, but it meets a very real consumer need.

And this added functionality could be a way to tip many wearable ambivalent consumers over the edge. I currently don’t own any wearables. I have considered getting a Fitbit, but the product doesn’t yet hold enough appeal to convince me to switch from using step counting and health management apps on my phone.

Similarly, as much as I can see the benefits, I would be unlikely to purchase either of the protective wearable products described here. But if Fitbit offered me pulse monitoring, sleep tracking and GPS or panic buttons for additional safety, that could be enough to sway me.

There is an opportunity here for wearable brands to attract new consumers by not only helping them stay healthy in ways they can control, but also by going some way to protect them from the things they can’t. The most meaningful, game-changing innovations don’t necessarily need to involve the most ground-breaking tech.

Heather Young Heather Young