5 Safety Wearables That Will Give You Support When You Need It

The very fact that this article exists is, unfortunately, a sad indicator of the prevalence of sexual violence in the world today. While — as we find ourselves needing to say over and over again — the onus should be not on people not to get assaulted, but on people not to assault others in the first place, the reality is that we still have a long way to go before that's the overall climate; and in the meantime, it can be empowering for women and other at-risk groups to find ways of protecting themselves and keeping the power in their corner. For example, safety wearables are jewelry or body accessories which serve a dual function: They're stylish and meant to keep you safe. And because 19.3 percent of women and 1.7 percent of men have been raped during their lifetime, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is it any wonder that safety wearables are now on the rise? When you then examine the disturbing stories behind their inception, it becomes all the more clear that using wearable tech as a way to prevent sexual assault is more important now than ever.

Step forward tech pioneer Katya Kermlin, who created a life-saving device called Nimb after she was attacked by a stranger with a knife 16 years ago. Kermlin recently shared a lengthy Facebook post detailing her ordeal in which she spent weeks recovering in intensive care; however, the one positive thing to come out of it is that it inspired her to co-found Nimb: A ring with a panic button which sends alerts to emergency contacts and those in the local area when pressed for three seconds.

To produce Nimb, which she describes in her Facebook post as "a movement towards safer environments, where people combine efforts to help someone in trouble, whether they are authorized officials, close ones, sympathetic neighbors or just passersby," Kermlin has set up a Kickstarter campaign; as of this writing, she's exceeded her original goal of $50,000 by more than $100,000 — and the campaign still has 31 days to go. Clearly, there is both a need and a desire for devices that help us protect ourselves when the climate still requires it.

Nor is Kermlin's invention the only one that's taken off; although around one third of women globally are expected to be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), an increasing number of us may have access to the kind of technology which can help prevent it, thanks to these latest inventions. Here are four other pieces of wearable tech worth knowing about.

1. Safelet

Safelet is a bracelet that marries wearable technology with style and safety. The bracelet partners with an app on your phone which allows the user send emergency messages to your contacts if you simultaneously press two tiny buttons on opposite ends of the device. Safelet can also dial an emergency telephone number for you.

2. Athena

Yasmine Mustafa decided to create Athena in response to two events: During a trip to South America, Mustafa met several local women and travellers who had been the victims of sexual assault; and upon her return, she discovered that someone close to her had been raped while she was away. She then knew something had to change, so she and Anthony Gold teamed up. The resulting wearable is Athena, a button-shaped sexual prevention device which can be clipped to bafs and burses or worn as a necklace. It works by sending alerts to your contacts when in distress; to that end, it can be customized and put in "alarm mode" to deter an attacker, or "silent mode" when you want to notify friends and family of an emergency. The device met its original funding goal of $40,000 within 48 hours of its IndieGoGo campaign going live, and ultimately raised $313,000 by November 2015.

3. Revolar

According to the device's website, CEO Jacqueline Ros created Revolar "out of love for her little sister, who was assaulted as a teenager." It's similar to Athena in that it uses a carefully-concealed button to give off a personal emergency alert via text or email when pressed. Emergency contacts then receive a color-coded web link containing GPS info — whether the link is yellow or red highlights the level of severity. The startup recently raised $3 million in funding.

4. Cuff

Cuff is a bracelet available in several designs and colors which contains Bluetooth connectivity that links your phone to pre-chosen contacts when pressed for two to three seconds during an emergency. It will notify your network of your location via GPS, which will then allow them to coordinate via a group message or call 911 for you.

Image: Skitterphoto.com/Pexels