Sexual assault: Can wearable gadgets ward off attackers?

There are a growing number of gadgets and apps on the market which aim to help keep women safe from sexual harassment and attack. But are they effective or could they merely reinforce the image of women as victims?


And at the more sophisticated end of the market, Occly has developed Blinc, a wearable security device that includes a "bodycam" to record video evidence of an attack, as well as setting off a siren, flashing lights and a call for help.

According to the World Health Organisation, about one in three women have experienced some form of assault, whether physical, sexual or both. And nearly two-fifths of murders of women are perpetrated by their partners.

These safety gadgets have obviously helped some women avert disaster, but not everyone is convinced of their merits.

"We welcome anything that can be used to improve safety and help prevent sexual violence," says Fay Maxted OBE, chief executive of The Survivors Trust, an umbrella agency for 130 rape and sexual abuse support services across the UK.


Ovum's Rishi Kaul thinks women's safety wearables will remain a niche market, particularly since there are now plenty of smartphone apps offering similar functionality, some that can be triggered by a scream or simply by shaking the phone.

"Women's safety wearables account for just 3.5% of the total wearables market," says Mr Kaul. "This function can simply be replaced by a safety app on the phone, which is why there hasn't been much success in this niche."

But for Ms Maxted, the issue of women's safety is more about education than technology.

"What technology solutions are there to teach potential abusers about consent and respect for women?" she asks.