UX/UI / design research
Guardess is a women’s safety app that features multiple tools from live tracking to discreet dispatch calls. Guardess introduces the GuardBand, a smart jewelry technology that is subtle in appearance, but performs many safety measures. With all these accessible resources, women can finally begin to feel safe in public.
Although Guardess is catered towards women, anyone female presenting or identifying can utilize it.
Majority of younger women live their day to day lives being overly cautious of their surroundings in fear of being targeted. Although safety tools exist, they all perform different functions, making it more difficult knowing what to use at the right place and time.
Research and design an app that combines the most important safety tools and functions. Plus, incorporate an interactive element outside of a smart phone that is within the realm of capabilities today.
The following is a summary of the Google Forms survey which was filled out by 46 respondents that identify as women or are female presenting. The survey consisted of questions that relate to violence against women and overall safety. None of the questions were required to answer.
Majority of these women have experienced verbal harassment.
Over half have experienced sexual assault.
Not one respondent feels very safe in public.
Majority of these women carry some form of self-defense.
Only one respondent does not know anyone who has experienced sexual assault.
Target Audience & User Persona
From the survey, we can see how many young adult women share similar experiences when out in public. With these results in mind, creating a User Persona will adequately capture the needs and concerns of a woman who may find themself in a compromising position.
Occupation: University Student
Location: San Fransisco, California
Cynthia has just moved to California from Michigan. She’s still acclimating to everything from the climate, the culture, transportation, to social life. Cynthia has a weekly night class that runs to 9:30pm, and she uses public transportation to get back to her apartment. In addition, she lives alone and never fails to double check that her doors are locked.
Interests: Watercolor, Pinterest, cats, silver jewelry, tarot cards, succulents
Pain Points: Uses public transportation at night at least 3 times a week, always feels unsafe when traveling alone, does not have many friends that live near her
What is Smart Jewelry?
Also known as Wearables, and is most commonly in the form of a ring.
Offers a less intrusive way to monitor an individual’s health compared to smart watches.
Can detect heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, motion, temperature, and more.
Has been developing over the last decade to more capabilities.
Why Smart Jewelry?
In a worst case scenario, one of the concerns of using a safety tool, such as an app, would be the fear of putting oneself in jeopardy. Common safety tools could put a woman in even more danger by alerting the perpetrator that they are calling for help. Smart jewelry could potentially allow for a more subtle way to get assistance.
Create and conceptualize a wearable, that lies within the
realm of possibility to:
Live track the user
Detect drugs and substances in tampered drinks before the user consumes it
Have accurate and reliable gesture controls that can trigger certain actions, such as calling for help
How Might We’s
After learning more about smart jewelry and the general issue at hand, How Might We questions are asked which will support what features and designs are needed. This step is important to see the usability and practicality concerns when conceptualizing an app.
A competitive analysis helps to identify what kind of safety tools exist. Comparing the most popular security apps gives an understanding of what capabilities out there. By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of these competitors, we can see what features were successful or redundant.
The dispatch/safety button
Safety network (contacts)
Simple to use
Emergency button is easily accessible
Ability to build a safety network
Location is updated in realtime
Simple and user-friendly interface
Scared to accidentally activate the button
Many features require a premium subscription
Redundant when phone is not on the user
Area alerts and updates
Live friend map
Send notification when a contact is near an incident
Updated local news with videos
Useful tools and extra features, but requires a
Information on reports may not be very accurate
Spreads paranoia and stereotypes about urban safety
Creating wireframes allows a visual display for what features should belong on the app. After designing the general layout, user testing will begin to see what features are working or not needed.
With bluetooth, the band can be controlled and monitored through the Guardess app.
Is capable of live tracking the user and regularly pinning the user’s location.
Sedative and harmful substances in tampered drinks can be detected through physical contact.
Recognizes physical gestures such as rotating the band around the finger a certain amount of times, squeezing the band, or tapping.
Detects and monitors heart rate and recognizes irregular heart rate spikes.
Creating an Account
To strengthen the security behind creating new accounts, I required a phone number verification for new users.
Another safety measure that Guardess takes is using facial recognition, or a passcode to access the user’s account after closing the app.
The user is not required to have a GuardBand to use the features on this app, but if the user does own one, they can connect it when they create their account, or later in the settings.
Making sure each account has a valid user
Home Page & SOS Button
This is the first page that the user will see when launching the app. It’s important that the safety tools are the most accessible components if a situation arises.
From here the user can post an alert, call for safe directions, and reach out for support from a Guardess hotline. On the bottom there are toggles for live tracking and location pinning, in case there is an unstable connection. The tutorial button for the tools page is the line right under the hotline button.
The SOS button activates: audio recording, live tracking, and calls dispatchers to the scene. The user has 5 seconds to cancel the action in case the activation was an accident.
Safety tools are buried under other features
Quick accessibility to tools
Not knowing how the tools work
Scared of clicking the SOS button on accident
Location & Safe Directions
The first page shows reports that are near the user, as well as nearby friends with Live Tracking on. The user can see reports made by threat level, reports made in the last number of days selected, or by a relative date. There is an option to see all reports in an area.
The user can get safe directions to either addresses they search up, or saved locations such as their home, work, or other pinned areas. Safe directions are determined by recent reports in the area, and gives the user options on whether they want to take the safer route or the faster route.
The top right has a button where the user can submit a report.
Knowing threats in the area
Avoiding the known threats
Connections & Local Feed
Recent reports and alerts that can be filtered by location, date, and threat level. Scrolling down, the user can find older alerts and reports and can also be filtered down. On each report there is a summary of the situation, but more details can appear if the user expands the post.
The like button can indicate to the friend that posted that the user has seen their message, and they can also comment to let them know that they have seen their updates. The notify button allows the user to receive notifications for updates on that friend’s post. You can also see if the friend who posted has their Live Tracking on or off.
Similar to the Quick Tools page and the Location page, the top right has the button to submit a report.
Knowing past alerts and details
Staying updated with friends and their safety
Submitting a Report
There are multiple places where a user can make a report. When they do need to make one, they can detail it by identifying its threat level on a scale of 1–3, level 3 being the most dangerous. Then, selecting what applies to it, whether it was physical or verbal.
The report then asks if the one filling out the report is a victim or not, because some users may help another one out if the victim was not comfortable making the report themselves. More questions are asked, such as if the victim was hurt, then where and when it took place.
All reports will conclude with resources in case the victim needs assistance. If the user is unsure where to start first, they are able to talk to a Guardess Agent, where they will help redirect them to where they need to go.
Alerting locals of a threat
Not wanting to report something yourself
Reporting something that has happened in the past
Getting the right assistance for victims
The GuardBand Page
The app is able to track the ring’s battery percentage, the user’s heart rate, and if there are any substances the wearable detects. There is also a quick toggle to turn the wearable off, and one for toggling Live Tracking.
The details and history section is helpful for when the user or authorities to find out when a specific incident has occurred. They can then look at heart rate spikes to get a better idea of when an incident has occurred. They are also able to see if any substances were detected in the past.
The active gestures can be turned on and off. By clicking on one of the squares, the user can set how they want that gesture to be activated, and can then test it out to see if that’s the gesture they want.
Customizing the haptics and gesture controls
Toggle live tracking for privacy
Unsure of how the gesture would work
What I Learned
This project challenged me with finding solutions for a complicated issue which affects a large demographic. Although I personally fit the target audience, I learned that listening to other people’s perspectives was the most organic form of research. Originally, I wanted to base this project off of my own concerns, but I realized that not everyone’s experiences are the same. Accessibility and user experience could ultimately be the deciding factor in a life or death situation. If I based this project solely on my perspective, these features would not have been as universally effective. Understanding other people’s viewpoints helped me grow as a designer, researcher, and individual. In the end, creating Guardess deepened my curiosity and knowledge in designing for social good and for the wellbeing of others.
Expanding Guardess to domestic violence
If I had more time to develop this project, I would like to implement more features that target domestic violence. In my initial research, I learned that domestic violence was among one of the higher causes of violence against women.
If I had more time, I would have built a brand image for Guardess, strengthening its overall concept and make the brand more cohesive.