This Bracelet Can Call 911 on Your Behalf (Because You Can Never Be Too Careful)
It’s a story Quinn Fitzgerald and Sara de Zarraga have heard all too often and can relate to all too well: There were little signs—an uncomfortable touch, strange comments—that made women feel unsafe around someone. “They felt trapped and didn’t know what to do,” Fitzgerald says.
Many of the things we’re taught to use to protect us can feel over-the-top in the moment. “With things like pepper spray and whistles, the only solution you have is to escalate things,” she adds. And when you’re already uncertain of how that person will respond, it’s easy to brush off those signs and hope you’ve misread the situation.
As survivors of sexual assault, Fitzgerald and de Zarraga want to change that. That’s why, for the past four years, they’ve been creating Flare, a line of jewelry with safety at the forefront. Inside each bracelet is a discreet button. Press it once, and it calls your phone with a recorded “emergency” message—one of 10 you can choose from, all recorded by voice actors to make it sound like the caller is dealing with something urgent and needs you ASAP. Press and hold the button for three seconds, and it can send a group text to up to 10 people of your choosing, alerting them you’re in danger and sending your GPS location. You can also hold down the button to have the device contact 911 for you.
“We talked to thousands of women before we solidified what the product was going to be, and what was really apparent to us was that the personal safety industry wasn’t doing that,” de Zarraga says. The duo worked with domestic violence organizations and women’s shelters, and they soon realized they needed something discrete, that looked and felt like a regular piece of jewelry (which wound up being the hardest part of creating Flare).
They were also very intentional about the placement of the button. It needed to be tucked under the band, so it wouldn’t be triggered any time you brushed up against something, yet it had to be easy to slip a finger under the band and activate, because otherwise, what’s the point?
“The button is similar to the force of the button on the side of an iPhone,” Fitzgerald says. “You can feel it click, which lets you know you’ve activated it.”
As long as you’re within 10 feet of your phone, the Bluetooth-enabled bracelet will work, and its internal battery lasts one to two years, so you don’t have to worry about charging it every night. Right now, the app is only available on iOS (aka Apple) devices, but the brand is working on an Android app, with the goal of launching in 2021.
Ultimately, Fitzgerald and de Zarraga don’t want Flare’s cuffs and bracelets to be thought of as wearable tech. The brand sells eight different designs, each available in multiple finishes, with plans to continually roll out new styles (including two in December) and eventually expand into other types of personal safety products.
“It won’t be one style that exists forever—we’re constantly listening to users,” de Zarraga says. (That variety can also prevent the bracelet from becoming so widely known as “the safety bracelet” that people feel sheepish about wearing it.)
The line has been selling out quickly, even before the brand was named one of Time’s Best Inventions of 2020, but Flare’s currently taking orders for early December.