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Tech companies finally offer women a fair deal with wearables

Products focus on answering women’s special needs, from safety to reproductive health

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 9:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 9:30am

What do women want?

When it comes to this age-old question, tech companies have often gotten it wrong, and selling what they think women want instead of listening to them. Mostly, it’s been a question of how much bling they can tack onto a product or which hot designer they can get to sign a partnership agreement.

The good news is that companies are starting to listen and cater specifically for women, especially in the wearables market. The products that are gaining traction are being noticed for focusing on answering women’s special needs, from safety to reproductive health.

At the forefront of wearable technology that promotes safety and beautiful design is Wisewear, which bills its bracelets as “smart jewellery that keeps you safe”.

“Technology is a beautiful thing, and wearing it should be too,” it declares on its website. Enter the Socialite collection.

The Socialite collection features smart bracelets in three distinctive designs, but all containing the same piece of technology. It comes with functions such as keeping track of how many steps you’ve taken and how many calories you’ve burned. As it works by being connected to your phone via Bluetooth, it notifies you when you have an incoming call, a new text message or an upcoming calendar event.

The biggest draw is the safety feature: whenever you feel unsafe, you can discreetly tap the bracelet using a unique sequence, prompting it to send out a text with your location (using Google Maps) to a list of five pre-determined contacts. It also calls the first person on your list and starts recording an audio file that is automatically stored on your phone.

As the bracelets (you can decide between Kingston, Calder or Duchess) are beautiful yet minimalistic in design, they won’t look out of place whether you’re lounging at the beach, hiking Dragon’s Back, or attending a swanky cocktail reception. The response has been positive. It also has a big-name retailing outlet to boast of: Saks Fifth Avenue started to sell the collection in September 2016.

ROAR for Good – a start-up that got its big start on Indigogo (it raised US$313,785 – or 667 per cent of its initial asking amount), an online crowdfunding platform – is another wearables-for-women-focused company that has safety on its mind. Its product, named Athena after the Greek goddess, is a wearable that is only available for pre-order – but is expected to begin shipping in early 2017.

Athena is a small, circular pendant-shaped device – about a size of a US quarter – that can be magnetically clipped onto your bag, belt, waistband, or attached to a chain and worn as a necklace. It comes in three colours: silver, black or rose gold. It features a cluster of ergonomic grooves that instinctively guide your fingers to a recessed button that will activate Athena.

When activated, Athena emits a loud alarm and texts your location to your contacts via Google Maps. It also comes with a SilentROAR mode, perfect for times when you want to be discrete and only send a text.

Not only does Athena look good, it aims to do good by donating a portion of the proceeds to programmes that educate the public on reducing violence. As ROAR for Good’s tagline states, “live your life boldly and without fear”.

Women who want a wearable accessory that goes beyond telling them how much sleep they’ve had and how much exercise they’ve done can look to Leaf Urban, Bellabeat’s newest gadget.  

Leaf Urban tracks your overall health and your menstruation cycle. It also helps track stress levels by keeping tabs on your activity, sleep quality and factoring in your reproductive health. Once it collects enough data, it can also predict stress and recommend deep breathing exercises to help you relax and de-stress. Pretty nifty.

The Leaf Urban can be worn as a necklace, bracelet or a clip, and comes in two colours – silver or rose gold.

Speaking of reproductive health, expectant mothers can use Bloomlife to keep track of their pregnancy during the third trimester. Unlike other wearable technology, users can rent the Bloomlife device on a weekly basis, and return it once the baby is born.

You just stick the device onto the lower belly and it measures contractions using electrophysiology. It keeps track of each contraction and keeps records of its frequency and duration, to help you better understand what your body is going through. It takes the guesswork out and frees your schedule from having to take manual notes, worrying about missing a contraction, or needlessly calling up your doctor in the middle of the night.