Year: Spring 2019
Duration: 6 months
Program: Stanford Product Design Senior Capstone Project
Project Type: Group - 3 Team Members
Role: User Research, Graphic Design
Tools: Laser Cutter, Arduino Software, Adobe: Illustrator/Photoshop
We are the Confidence Coalition. As seniors in the Product Design program at Stanford University, we chose to focus on women's safety for our two-quarter long Capstone Project. Our goal for this project is to develop a physical product to help young women feel more confident and safe when 'going out'.​​​​​​​
Have you ever held your keys between your fingers when you’re walking home at night? Why is that? Statistics tell us that 1 in 6 American women will be victim to attempted or completed sexual assault in her lifetime, and 54% of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 18 and 34. Pepper spray, physical weapons, keys in hand, and apps that call the cops: those are the self-defense tools currently available. Women use these products to take precautions when walking at night, just in case. But these products are designed for explicitly dangerous situations. They fail to address the spectrum of dangerous encounters; moreover, only 20% of assaults include attacks by strangers, and 80% are by someone you already know. 
Young women need to feel prepared and confident in their ability to respond to a threatening situation, while maintaining their freedom and bodily autonomy.
Through our research process, we made a number of pivots. We started by researching the available weapons that women are currently using. After identifying the possible negative ramifications of relying on a weapon, we pivoted to user surveys to collect more information. We began to assess our ability to influence a woman's confidence, and to our surprise, discovered we possessed the power to do so! Heading back to the drawing board, we conducted tons and tons of interviews to gain meaningful insight to redirect our design direction. ​​​​​​​
In talking to dozens of women between the ages of 18-34, we discovered that in uncomfortable one-on-one conversations, women air on the side of giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, and prioritize the other person's feelings. ​​​​​​​Even when women feel uncomfortable, they tend to refrain from saying anything because they don't want to offend him.
This was a trend in the stories we heard. We realized that the only exception to the "don’t offend" rule was: women are perfectly willing to offend someone if they are defending someone else. If they see their friend in an uncomfortable situation, there’s no hesitation in stepping in to intervene. We realized that women have a medley of ways to overtly signal each other, yet there’s no way to be discreet while still making sure your friend will see your signal. Furthermore, the problem with the signal method is that these gestures are often missed.
Our interviewees said that the most powerful mover of confidence was having other women or friends around them. More than what anything they would wear, say, and even more than carrying pepper spray. Having a good friend with them was much more likely to boost confidence, not only in attitude, but also in body language.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
This insight inspired our team to address the frequently mentioned narrative around uncomfortable situations: 
"Imagine you’re at a party. It’s noisy. The music is loud. And for a moment, you’ve lost your friends. You’re speaking to a guy who says he’s working at facebook… he seems nice… but you start to get uncomfortable and don’t know how to leave without feeling like you’re being rude."
A woman named Natalie shared this story with us. We spoke to dozens of women like Natalie that also found themselves in this kind of situation where they felt a conflict between feeling safe and feeling polite. And in this conflict there is a social interaction where they don’t want to feel rude or offend the man. ​We decided to create a product that helps women gain support they needs to address uncomfortable situations, while feeling empowered and autonomous.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
From our research and the emerging insights, our team identified that young women need to feel prepared and confident in their ability to respond to a threatening situation, while still enjoying the same freedom that everyone else does. Our target user is a woman between the ages of 18 and mid 30’s, who are living in cities or urban areas, who may be looking for a device that empowers them, connects them with their friends and in doing so, boosts their confidence levels. Within this target user, our final design is specifically for young women who like to go out with their friends in a group, and are looking for that next level of support and unity for the group.​​​​​​​ We decided to focus on women that are going out with their friends, likely during nighttime. 
Introducing, "The Circle". It’s beautiful, discreet, and with a simple gesture, you can summon your friends by sending a vibration to their rings, while also sending a notification to their phones with your exact location. If they are at the party, they can swoop in and save you from that guy who says he’s a facebook recruiter but is really creepily hitting on you. OR if your friend’s not there, they know to call you to give you an out.
A ring’s strength is normally measured by the materials it’s made of.. precious metals, gold, silver.... but this ring also represents a circle of strength, friendships and trust, and is a symbol of women supporting women. Maybe it even causes those with bad intentions to hesitate because they know you have an Circle of friends behind you.
We created a ring that lets women signal their friends discreetly. The ring comes in a multi-pack so that groups of friends can start using it right away. A simple trigger mechanism makes the other rings in the group vibrate.
Our companion application sends push notifications each time someone triggers the signal. Groups can be re-defined on the fly.