When someone thinks of GPS tracking bracelets, court mandated devices or criminals under house arrest typically come to mind, but one company is aiming to break that stigma and bring ubiquitous location monitoring into fashion.
Under the guise of providing a convenient, stylish way to “stay safe,” a San Francisco-based company has produced bracelets, key chains, necklaces and hair clips with embeddable GPS sensors targeting women as the primary market, just the latest Orwellian gadget in the campaign to make Big Brother appear fashionable and trendy.
Soon to be sold under the brand name “Cuff” (not a far cry from “handcuff”), the line of jewelery, designed by former Restoration Hardware VP of Product Development, Deepa Sood, synchs with your “smart phone” to send alerts, receive notifications or track your fitness routines.
“At one press of a button, an SOS goes out to the people you designate as your protective circle when you need help,” Sood explained in an interview with Elle Magazine. “Your first-responders will get an alert; will receive your location; and you can even trigger a microphone so that they can hear you in real time. In the more everyday vein, Cuff allows you to tailor who can ‘break through’ your phone and reach you on your Cuff.”
According to WAFB, the Cuff hair clip also “contains sensors that automatically detect physical assault and sends for help,” and also “collects data that can help in criminal investigations by activating your phone’s G-P-S, camera, and microphone.”
An ad for Cuff [above] depicts a woman encountering a menacing figure while jogging through the park. Instead of turning around and running the other way, the woman instead presses on her Cuff bracelet, like a communicator out of Star Trek The Next Generation, to notify members of her “Cuff circle” that something is amiss.
In a recent video report by WAFB, the Cuff is characterized as a “secret crime-fighting tool,” and one woman even ludicrously describes knowing her every movement is being tracked as empowering and “very wonder-woman like.”
While practical safety applications for the fashion tech can be envisioned, one wonders if “stylish,” implantable RFID and GPS tracking chips can be that far down the road.
The Cuff line of products are set to hit the market in Fall 2014. “The cuff jewelry costs anywhere from $35 to $110 and the smartchip lasts for a year. The hair clip is $50 to $75 with an optional $5 a month monitoring fee,” reports WAFB.
Benjamin Franklin is famously quoted as saying, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Considering Franklin’s prescient warning, is Cuff’s technology getting a little too close for comfort? Sound off below..