ALARM DE­VICES

Per­sonal se­cu­rity gets a tech boost.

Fashion (Canada) - - The Draw | Contents - By Sharine Tay­lor

Say good­bye to pep­per spray, be­cause wear­able tech is en­ter­ing the per­sonal-safety mar­ket.

If wear­ables like FitBit track our steps and Ap­ple Watch acts as an ex­ten­sion of our iPhones to help keep us or­ga­nized, what stands at the in­ter­sec­tion of tech­nol­ogy and safety? A num­ber of tech-preneurs are ask­ing this, too, and re­spond­ing to so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions sur­round­ing sto­ries of street and sex­ual ha­rass­ment with in­no­va­tive de­vices that, though not fool­proof, are adept at mak­ing us feel pro­tected. RunLites gloves, Nimb rings and the Athena clip-on are three prod­ucts that look like ac­ces­sories but al­low peo­ple to in­te­grate safety-ori­ented tech into their wardrobes. And the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of these de­vices are quite di­verse: RunLites gloves set off built-in lights that al­low early-morn­ing and latenight run­ners to see or be seen; with a press of Nimb’s sleek ring, 9-1-1 is qui­etly called and lo­ca­tion shar­ing is ac­ti­vated be­tween fam­ily, friends and po­ten­tial first re­spon­ders (nearby Nimb users also get alerted); and Athena is a round clip-on ac­ces­sory that can be synced (when pressed) with smart­phones to alert pre-se­lected con­tacts with ei­ther a silent alert or a panic alarm that rings louder than 95 deci­bels.

“We’ve had all kinds of uses for Athena that we never an­tic­i­pated,” says Yas­mine Mustafa, co-founder and CEO of ROAR for Good, which makes the prod­uct. “[We’ve heard of] real es­tate agents feel­ing more em­pow­ered at work, el­derly folks main­tain­ing their in­de­pen­dence, par­ents send­ing their young teenagers to the mall or mar­ket for the first time with Athena, and sur­vivors of vi­o­lence who ‘re­claimed their power’ by us­ing the de­vice to feel safe re­turn­ing to ac­tiv­i­ties they paused due to fear,” she adds. “Athena pro­vides peace of mind.”

It’s un­likely that such de­vices will make any­one feel in­vin­ci­ble, says Dr. Ayanna Abrams, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, and yet they work. “Wear­able tech does have an im­pact on how safe and in con­trol we feel dur­ing these ex­pe­ri­ences, which can al­low us to be more present in what­ever the ac­tiv­ity is. Fear or in­se­cu­rity about safety au­to­mat­i­cally di­min­ishes, and our fo­cus is shifted be­cause we are bi­o­log­i­cally re­spond­ing to what­ever the feared stim­u­lus is,” she says. “If that can be dif­fused in any way by an in­creased sense of power in the sce­nario, our thoughts and en­ergy can be di­rected at what we want to en­joy in the mo­ment.”

“Wear­able tech does have an im­pact on how safe and in con­trol we feel, which can al­low us to be more present in what­ever the ac­tiv­ity is.”

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