University of Washington students won “Best Product Concept” at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit – Design Expo 2014 for their non-working prototype called Vive, a smart bracelet that notifies friends when you’ve had too much to drink.
The prototype bracelet contains integrated sensors that detect your personal alcohol levels and dehydration. It connects to a Smartphone app via Bluetooth, and when users tap their bracelets together, they get friend requests. As a security feature, users can only see each other on the app when both parties approve their friend requests.
When the bracelet detects you’re drinking, it periodically vibrates, like a friend checking in with you to make sure you’re okay. If users squeeze the bracelet, Vive assumes you’re still in control. Check-ins become more frequent when Vive senses your blood alcohol levels rising.
If you don’t squeeze the bracelet, however, Vive will send an alert to your friends’ phones so they can find you and make sure you’re safe.
The designers say that Vive was born out of a conversation with the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Activists (SARVA) at the University of Washington, in which they learned that alcohol is the weapon of choice for people looking to commit rape or sexual assault. In fact, at least half of sexual assaults involve alcohol.
The designers know they can’t stop sexual assault, but they wanted to create a technology that could intervene before an individual has been removed from the safety of his or her social network.
Unfortunately, a working prototype has yet to be released. But with this major win under their belt, this could be the postitive feedback the designers need to move forward with the project.
Despite the designers’ good intentions, the device is further fueling a recent debate: Should women be responsible for protecting themselves from rape and sexual assault, or should we be focusing more on educating men in prevention?
What do you think of the prototype, collegiettes? Comment below!