From the designers behind the Fitbit comes a new wearable device: the Buzz bracelet, which monitors a person’s capacity to consent to consensual relations.
New Deal Design believes when both men and women wear the Buzz bracelet it should help prevent rape and sexual assault.
According to design publication Dezeen, the design studio worked with gynaecologist Jennifer Lang, who has a background in assisting victims of sexual assault, and her business partner Robert Kramer. The duo had seen that there was a high correlation between incidences of sexual assault and heavy drinking on US college campuses, and thought that could form the basis for a new preventative technology.
“They came up with this idea that maybe we could tie it all together and create some kind of alert system,” New Deal Design head Gadi Amit told Dezeen for a feature you can read here. “We took it to the next level.”
The Buzz bracelet focuses on blood-alcohol level, based on the premise that with all the complexities surrounding sex and consent, drunkenness and its effect on judgment is the easiest to quantify. The bracelet reads blood-alcohol concentration through the skin using a technology only recently available.
When two people wearing the Buzz bracelet meet, they can ‘bump handshake’ with the bracelets to exchange their capacity-state information and sync up for the night. If they slip into the “red zone” where they lose capacity to consent, their partner will get an alert.
The Buzz bracelet system allows users to share information with friends, effectively creating a network who will be ‘buzzed’ when a person enters the red zone, or if they send a panic or duress signal.
Amit says the designers wanted the system to intervene earlier in the night and create a positive tool for partners to start having a discussion about capacity to consent a lot earlier.
“There are a lot of ambiguities and grey areas and miscommunications,” said Amit. “These are young folks essentially starting their sexual life.
“But it’s quite a known scientific factor that there’s a point where you are crossing the line in terms of your consciousness, and you become too drunk to know what you do,” he told Dezeen.
“The device allows one person to check whether another is not too drunk and be aware that they be crossing the line of the capacity to consent.
“We’re not claiming that this is the answer that will save the world from all sexual assault, but it could be a very good tool for preventing some of them,” he said.
A team of six designers from New Deal created the Buzz bracelets, which feature soft mesh coloured blue, yellow or grey.