Brunel students design accessories to help women feel safer in public

A cup that detects drink spikes and a jammer to block upskirt shots are among five product concepts developed by Brunel University students to help women defend themselves against physical and sexual harassment.

The speculative project saw the students dream up gadgets for US jeweler Tiffany & Co based on emerging technologies, which they believe will be available within the next 10 to 15 years.

At the New Designers graduate showcase in London, these concepts were on display in the form of large-scale mock-ups, designed to suggest how companies could help address growing fears about violence against women in cities. .

Among the five projects is a spike-sensing tumbler by Henry Copeland

The project was a direct response to the highly publicized murders of Sarah Everard and Sabine Nessa – two British women who were attacked and killed last year as they walked home alone at night.

Although unrelated, these cases have generated much discussion about women’s safety, alongside statistics showing that incidents of spiked drink and family violence are currently on the rise in the UK.

“It’s a huge problem and if nothing is done it will only get worse in the future,” said a Brunel student. Chloe McCourt said Dezeen.

Tiffany shield by Wysiana Patricia
Wysiana Patricia came up with a jammer for upskirt photos

Worldwide, one in three women has suffered physical or sexual violence in his or her life, regardless of the rise in gender-based violence which was caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Brunel University students say companies like Tiffany and company should take the lead in creating products to help combat this problem, as they are already trusted by women and claim to promote female empowerment.

With this in mind, their product concepts are designed as finished garments and accessories in the brand’s signature Tiffany Blue, each designed for a different setting, from the pub to the workplace.

Tiffany Lux by Sophie Lazenby of Brunel University
Sophie Lazenby’s torque necklace acts as a non-violent defense mechanism

“All of the technology has scientific evidence behind it to show it’s possible,” McCourt explained. “But some may be easier to implement earlier than others.”

To help women feel safer at a party, a student Henry Copeland designed a cup with a smart sensor built into its base, which would flash red when it detected that a drink had been spiked with date rape drugs.

“Afterwards, it can be put in the dishwasher,” McCourt explained. “And the heat from the water will reset the sensor so it can be used again.”

Wysiana Patricia addressed the issue of upskirting on public transport, which involves taking a picture under someone’s skirt or dress without their consent.

In response, she envisioned a handheld jammer that women could attach to the bottom of their purse, which would emit infrared radiation to interrupt any visual recordings taken from below.

“Infrared actually blurs photos,” another student explained. Stanley Binn. “People like Roman Abramovich have it on their yachts.”

“So if someone tried to take a photo it would blur the image and then send a message back to the person who took the photo to let them know it was taken and hopefully get it to stop to do.”

Tiffany Learned by Chloe McCourt
Chloe McCourt has developed necklaces that document workplace harassment

In the same way, Sophie Lazenby developed a couple necklace that women can wear as a non-violent defense mechanism when they come home alone.

Unlike mace and pepper spray, which are considered firearms and therefore illegal in the UK, this would use LED lights built into the front and back of the device alongside pulse sensors and movement to detect potential threats.

When activated, the LEDs emitted flashes of light and strobes of light to distract the author with a confusing, nauseating effect called twinkling vertigo.

“It makes you feel really disoriented just looking at the flickering light,” Lazenby said. “And that gives the woman a chance to run, call for help on the phone, or go to the nearest store.”

Tiffany Compact by Stanley Binns of Brunel University
Stanley Binns has developed a haptic therapy tool hidden in a compact case

McCourt’s own project is another wearable technology in the form of a collar, which uses machine learning to detect when the wearer is being harassed in the workplace and changes color to warn the abuser to stop the behavior.

“If they don’t, the camera will record what is happening and then send the video to HR, so there will be no repercussions for whoever is speaking out,” the student explained.

“Unless you’re planning to sexually assault someone, you’re not going to set it off, so you don’t have to worry about surveillance.”

Finally, Binns’ project deals with the traumatic aftermath of domestic violence in the form of a small, compact mirror, which doubles as an on-the-go therapy tool for victims of domestic violence.

This contains vibrating pads that provide haptic feedback, using an experimental type of psychotherapy called EMDR which was developed in the 1980s to help patients cope with traumatic experiences.

“When you have debilitating feelings of anxiety, which can happen at any time, especially with PTSD, you can just take 15 minutes and go sit on a park bench and hold the haptics in each hand,” a- he explained.

“They vibrate from side to side as you think about your past and it actually helps you reprocess it.”

Tiffany & Co Project Women's Safety Gadgets by Brunel University Students
The five concepts are part of a group project by Brunel University students

Rotterdam-based Ismay Schaduw created a collection of bulletproof vests for women after discovering that safety gear rarely offers them the same level of protection as men.

The New Designers show took place at the Business Design Center in London from June 29 to July 9, 2022. Check the Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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