This Ob-Gyn-Designed Wearable May Reduce Campus Sexual Assault

Buzz to reduce sexual assault

A California ob-gyn has invented a bracelet that may reduce sexual assaults in campus. The bracelet called Buzz is part blood alcohol-monitoring wearable, part Livestrong-style bracelet that aims to support consensual sex.

Dr. Jennifer Lang and Rob Kramer self-funded the project which was designed by Silicon Valley design firm New Deal Design.

According to a study, around 28% of women on college campuses are sexually assaulted during their education, and according to another study, alcohol is somehow involved in 70% of the campus assaults.

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Buzz is a connected wristband: a free bracelet which charges $1 per month cloud service.

Much like a Fitbit–which New Deal Design (NDD) also designed – the wearable pairs to your phone and tracks your state of being. However, instead of steps or heart rate, the wearable measures your blood alcohol level through your skin.

This is how Buzz works. You set up a super intimate social network of your closest, most trusted friends. This is your first line of defense during a night out.

When you’re out on a date, you bump your buzz with your date’s and it lets two of you pair on a date that’s tracked in the cloud – even if that date is casual like saying “what’s up.” From that point Buzz continues to monitor the location and Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of both parties. The device lets each party send so-called ‘good vibes’ by tapping the band three times, or send a “back off, we’re going too fast” kind of message simply by tapping and holding it. You can also contact a friend to call or arrive at your location or alert the authorities to get help by pinching the band.

Buzz to reduce sexual assault
Image: New Deal Design

The band is very thin. Designed by NDD, it is made from two electronic pebbles: one on the top of the wrist for the LED interface, and one on the bottom to measure BAC. The outer body is a soft cloth weave. The band isn’t designed to be beautiful, but like a Livestrong bracelet it is meant to be noticeable.

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“With this mesh, we get some of the skin coming through the device, as a metaphor, some of you is showing through the band,” says Tony Smith, industrial design lead. “Functionally, that mesh keeps it lightweight and breathable, something you’d be comfortable wearing all day long.”

Lang and Kramer plan to release Buzz in 2019 for free, while relying on a $1 monthly subscription fee to generate revenue. The duo is also open to partnerships, and they see potential in places like the alcohol industry to subsidize their efforts.

“What we don’t want to be is the police in the bedroom,” says Lang. “This is the point in people’s lives where they’re out there [for the first time], and we don’t want to be the rain on the parade. We want to create a supportive environment where everyone can have a fun time.”