In a college town like Amherst it is inevitable that there will be weekend nights you don’t entirely remember; either that, or nights that you spend searching for one of your friends who got separated from the group. But now, it seems, you may be able to party a little bit more safely.
Recently, at the annual design expo at Microsoft’s Research Faculty Summit a group of students at the University of Washington presented Vive, a non-working prototype for a bracelet that can detect your alcohol and dehydration levels. Not only that, but Vive can connect you to your friends or ‘party group’ through social media and enable you to alert them if you get too drunk or get into an uncomfortable situation. Furthermore, the bracelet checks in on you periodically, and if you don’t respond to the check-in it will alert the rest of your party group immediately.
While I initially thought this idea was a little over the top, and admittedly couldn’t get over how unappealing the bracelets looked aesthetically, I was pretty impressed by how the product was marketed. The group proposed entering the market through events that involve alcohol such as music festivals, raves, concerts, and college parties. The Vive bracelets would act to replace entry wristbands at party venues, and could even be returned to the venues at the end of the night to be reused at future events. Though there are obvious safety benefits to using these bracelets at such events, the innovators also marketed the fun side of the bracelets.
By tapping your Vive bracelet to someone else’s bracelet, you are automatically connected to the other person’s Facebook profile when you log onto yours and have the option to friend request that person. This cuts out awkward phone number exchanges and allows you to take a second look at the people you met at party events, and potentially connect with them further. As a college student, to me this seemed like a fun and innovative new way to meet people. Moreover, it would be nice to not have to babysit your irresponsible friends, or have them babysit you if you get too drunk.
The University of Washington group ultimately said they envisioned the accessory becoming autonomous of party venues and becoming something everyone has and doesn’t leave home without. They plan to look into making the bracelet more visually pleasing (yay) and smaller. For me, they really sold the product. While at first I was skeptical and didn’t think I’d really want or need a Vive bracelet, I wanted one for my friends and myself by the end of their sales pitch presentation video, which proved that even I couldn’t deny the value proposition of the product.