"Flare" is an interactive wearable device and iOS application. It is designed to keep your social group together on social outings. Using GPS functionality, this product acts as a distress signal that, when activated, will alert everybody in your group and, if necessary, the authorities.
Strength in Numbers
1/5 American Women and 1/50 American Men (1) have been the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime. These alarming statistics have given rise to many often quoted sayings, as well as social strategies for maintaining ones physical and mental safety. While, in an ideal world, people would not live with the fear of assault looming around every corner, employing these safety measures can alleviate some of the fear and potentially save a life.
"Strength in Numbers" is an oft quoted piece of advice for groups of friends going out for the night. In the wild, a predator is less likely to attack an animal when they're in a group than when they're alone. At its core, Flare was conceived as a method of keeping a social group connected, even when they are not physically in the same space.
Safety Through Connection and Technology
From the seed of the idea, Flare was always going to consist of a mobile application and a wearable device that were connected to perform a function. Seduced by the infinite possibilities of the mobile application world, the team (Keith Costa, Loremis Juanes C, and Kelly Benton) packed the initial concepts with useful safety features and multi-step functions. However, after thinking deeper about the purpose of this design, we decided to simplify the concept to what we saw as the most important and useful functions. The device needed to let your established group know where the user was, that the user was in trouble, and that the user or the group could immediately call for help.
A Wearable Safety Bracelet
For the wearable, we decided on a bracelet. We felt that with the rise in popularity of smartwatches, it would be an accessory that would be the easiest to fit into a users routine and also a item that a user would be less likely to forget. While much of the app's function is electronic and wirelessly activated, we felt that a tangible, physical activation technique would be a way for the user to be absolutely sure that the signal went through.
Our initial concept for the wearable featured an on/off dial, and ends that expanded when the user tugged firmly on the watchband. While this function physically illustrated the activation of the wearable and app, it ultimately featured too many moving parts and steps, thereby adding too much room for error.
An Accessible Mobile Application
When developing the mobile application, accessibility and ease of use were paramount. We chose an iOS operating system for our basis as it is a ubiquitously familiar set up, and created a comprehensive wire frame that could store information but also be a very quick, few step process to call for help if needed. Even though Flare exists as a safety app, creating a social element is conducive to its ease of use. Being able to activate established groups removes the need to individually activate each persons bracelet, and therefore streamlines and simplifies its use.
The Flare Bracelet is a minimal, functional safety bracelet. Activated by a simple pulling of the watchbands, this bracelet utilizes simple electronics and wireless connection to the Flare App to alert your group of any danger you might be in.
The physical design of the Flare Bracelet is important because it will be worn by the user in their day to day life. If the user doesn't want to wear it, it renders the product useless. Taking inspiration from modern smart wearables, the Flare Bracelet features a small, pill shaped design, and an inky black screen. The bracelet bands can be interchanged and customized in order to personalize the appearance and fit it with the users personal style. Ultimately, the goal of the design was create a wearable that was elegant enough to stand out, but minimalist enough that it could adapt to the users own preferences.
When the bracelet is activated by the app at the beginning of the night, a pill shape appears on the screen. This pill shape is a simple, clear indication that the app and the wearable are connected and that the safety features are active. When the user tugs on the watchband, there is a physical cue (the ends of the bracelet fob flare out) and a 5 second countdown begins. This countdown is illustrated by the pill shape transforming into the orange Flare logo. When this logo appears on the screen, the user knows that their emergency signal has been activated, and that everybody in their activated group knows their location and has been alerted to their situation.
Where the Flare Bracelet was designed to be minimal and pointed in its purpose, the Flare App is meant to be the meat of the operation. Utilizing an accessable UI and basic commands, the Flare app allows the user to add and edit groups, create a useful profile, and call for help, either from emergency contacts or the police.
Distress - Bracelet to App
When the Flare bracelet is activated, it immediately sends a notification to the smartphone of everybody in the group. The popup allows them to see your location and contact you using their phone or messaging apps. It also has the option of contacting an emergency contact, as well as calling 911 if the situation is dire and they are not able to get in contact with you.
Distress - App to Bracelet
Activation of the emergency signal is also available independent of the wearable. If one is without their wearable or activating from the mobile app is easier, all of the emergency features can be activated by pressing the "Emergency" section in the app.
Upon opening the app and entering, the user is immediately brought to the "Groups" page. This way you can quickly activate the group of people you'd like the app to monitor and add and remove people from it.
When the user switches to the "profile" section, they are able to view their personal information. This information is available to group members in the event of an emergency. This information includes contact info, emergency contacts and basic medical info in the even that such information is necessary. The user can edit any of their personal information.
(1) Matthew J. Breiding et al., Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization - National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2011, (Atlanta: CDC, 2014), www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6308.pdf