Look, it’s an unfortunate reality that the world can be quite unsafe. If you’re a woman out in a situation where you’re drinking, you need to worry about drugs in your drinks, assaults from your Uber driver, and what seems like a million other threats.
There are a number of startups and apps that aim to help make people more secure when they’re out and about, but this is literally the dumbest idea I have ever seen, and I have been a geek for a long, long time.
Apparently, the Onee is a wearables/app combo where you can pair your Onee with a friend, and then your apps sync up. Once you’re out and about, you can signal your friends by discreetly buzzing them with the Onee, where one buzz means all is well and two buzzes means, “come save me” … or, based on their awful marketing video, one buzz means come take a group photo, while two buzzes means, “I’m ditching you to go to a donut shop.” And no, that’s sadly not a joke. Watch their video:
So there are a few things we can all agree on here, and I have to give credit to The Verge for their biting criticism of this concept as well. One, the idea of the buddy system is good. Two, if you already have your phone out to track your friend, why the hell would you use the Onee to find them when you could just text them? And three, how bad of a friend are you if you leave a party and don’t invite your other friend to go with you to get late night donuts? The consensus among my coworkers, by the way, is that you would be dead to them if you didn’t bring them with you for donuts. Leaving the party is fine. Leaving the party and not inviting others for the donuts is unforgivable.
In all seriousness, the Onee is an awful idea on a purely practical level. It’s ugly, expensive ($95 per bracelet!), and chunky, so you’re depending on your friends to buy and wear a super ugly friendship bracelet so you can buzz them discreetly. But you can also buzz your friends discreetly with your phone. Or an Apple Watch! In fact, there’s very little the Onee does that you can’t do with any smartphone-connected traditional wearable, and that’s my biggest issue with it. Discreetly buzzing your friends is neat, but it’s hardly worth the value proposition. On the other hand, if the Onee also sent out a true emergency alert to more than just its paired bracelet AND let out a loud emergency tone, then it might be more worthwhile.
A bracelet that buzzes your friends is dumb. A bracelet that can act like a high-tech “rape whistle”, startling someone attacking you and alerting others that you’re in danger, that’s a good idea. Unfortunately, that’s not the Onee. Save your money, buy some donuts, and come up with a real safety plan with your friends instead.