Can Wearable Tech combat Sexual Assault?

ROAR is a startup that’s constructing a wearable device designed to deter attackers and notify family members.

June 10, 2015



Yasmine Mustafa knew issues were out of control when someone used to be kidnapped outdoor her Philadelphia condo and raped. This wasn’t a nasty part of town, both: The self-described serial entrepreneur lived in an expensive, well-lit part of downtown Philly. on the time, her nerves had been raw. She had just returned from a months-lengthy, solo trip throughout South the usa, all the way through which she used to be repeatedly warned of the risks of a thirtysomething woman traveling by myself—and there have been a number of disturbing stories as an example the purpose.

“what is going down on this world?” she requested herself after her neighbor used to be assaulted. no doubt, she figured, there was a method to make use of know-how to chip away on the alarmingly excessive charge of assaults towards girls.

“every two minutes, a girl is attacked in the us,” says Mustafa. “What am i able to do?”

To sort out the problem, Mustafa did what she knows very best: She began a company. along with cofounder Anthony Gold, Mustafa launched ROAR For just right, a startup fascinated about empowering women. After a few iterations, they settled on their first product: Athena, a wearable type accent that doubles as a form of high-tech rape whistle. When its wearer senses danger, they are able to hang down a button on the tool for 3 seconds to activate a loud alarm and flashing lights. ROAR then pairs with its smartphone app to alert native authorities and pre-unique family members that something is up and shares the sufferer’s region with these folks.

“We discovered that ladies do not like the self-safeguard instruments which might be available in the market,” says Mustafa. “they may be too hard to use. they’re afraid they will use them towards themselves. they do not wish to be in hand-to-hand fight in the first location.”

widespread self-protection mechanisms like pepper spray and Tasers also have one obvious person expertise problem: You want to pull them out of your pocket or purse, one thing that’s now not always convenient within the warmth of a nerve-racking, sudden come upon. “We concept, what if shall we make them wearable?”

ROAR’s functionality isn’t limited to the moment hassle occurs. The product’s app will try and be preventative as smartly, due to just a little bit of crowdsourced intelligence. users can file hassle spots—say, a boulevard nook recognized to be susceptible to catcalls, or a dangerously underlit facet boulevard—so the app can warn different customers of trouble in advance. Mustafa likens this feature to “Waze for safety,” referring to the Google-owned site visitors app that makes use of crowdsourced intelligence to flag bother spots.

Mustafa and Gold don’t seem to be the primary to think about using the wearable tech craze and the ubiquity of smart gadgets to do something about sexual assault. Safelet and Revolar are both wearable non-public alarms that, like ROAR’s Athena, broadcast the user’s vicinity to the right companions on the contact of a button. In may, Revolar yielded over $83,000 on Kickstarter. both merchandise use Bluetooth to connect to the user’s phone, the place an app powers so much of the back-end functionality. even supposing similar to Safelet and Revolar as a non-public alarm machine, Athena hopes to set itself apart with the aid of acting as a preventative instrument as smartly, each during the Waze-like crowdsourcing and through tutorial efforts.

curtailing sexual violence is a sexy bold and excessive-minded intention, and Mustafa and Gold know this. as an alternative of relying on hardware and software on my own, ROAR will also donate a few of it profits to charities dedicated to tackling sexual assault via schooling.

“we do not want to just put a band-support on the problem of violence against women,” says Gold. “We wish to get to the basis motives. And by using partnering with companies that are taken with teaching young boys—and ladies—about empathy, respect, and consent, we know the positive alternate may end up.”

it can be nonetheless very early within the sport for ROAR. the company just accomplished a three-month program on the DreamIt Ventures incubator and is now on the lookout for extra funding. Later this summer, Mustafa says the corporate plans on launching a crowdfunding campaign to boost not simply capital, but awareness. so far, the venture has gained a big quantity of attention within the local tech press and a few feminist circles, completely via phrase of mouth. they’re hanging off hiring public relations assist for a while (the fee is frequently not worth it for money-strapped, early stage startups), so Mustafa and her staff are hoping that a crowdfunding campaign will generate more buzz—ideally, sufficient to rake in sufficient money to expedite the manufacturing of the tool, which they purpose to ship later this year.

“we’ll know we’re a success when there is not any longer a necessity for the merchandise we’re building,” says Mustafa. “Nothing would carry us more joy than to see that [become] a truth. we want the stats of assaults towards ladies weren’t as horrific as they’re. Our goal is to change that reality.”








[photo: Flickr consumer Magdalena Roeseler]

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