With a string of designers breaking down the smartwatch door over the course of the past year, picking up a stylish and fashionable device has never been easier. But while many of these watches are primarily about the looks with basic smart features, such as step counting and notifications, tacked on as bonuses, South Korean startup DNX is aiming to emphasise style and safety with its smartwatch, Carah.
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And with Grace Kwon — a computer science and art & design major — at the head of operations for the company, the aim is to provide backers with a panic device that can appeal to women. With early bird offers starting at £75 (around $95), backers are being offered the device at more than 50% off its eventual retail price.
"I have two daughters, and whenever I used to see things in the news about attacks on women I always thought about a panic device that could have prevented the situation. We built Carah to give people reassurance that help is just a touch away - with just a simple press of the watch sounding an alarm or notifying your guardians with a GPS map," Prof. Kwon told Wareable.
"In the US alone, a women is assaulted every nine seconds; one in three women will experience some kind of physical or sexual assault — that's why we decided to make this safety device."
Carah's primary focus is to provide users with peace of mind in an uncomfortable or potentially unsafe situation, but it also manages to pack in a whole bunch of smartwatch mod cons, such as a step, run and calorie burn counter, LED notifications, smartphone camera control and audio recording.
And interestingly, how you interact with the watch's smart function is also different to everyday devices, adding to Carah's ability to blend in as a traditional timepiece. Pushing down the entire watch face for two seconds activates the siren, while pressing on the points at 12, 3, 6 or 9 o'clock can help you tap into the likes of its timer or phone-finding capabilities.
It hasn't been an easy process, though, with Prof. Kwon indicating that merging safety tech and remaining fashionable was the toughest challenge to overcome.
"We wanted this to be a watch that actually appealed to people, and trying to include all the safety features was difficult from a design perspective. I think a lot of people are used to these devices applying to kids or maybe the elderly, so getting people used to the idea is also hard."
Kwon also discussed the reasons for taking the device through Kickstarter, noting that it gives the team the ability to audition the devices and receive feedback from a wider audience. However, despite Carah attempting to carve out its own market through the crowdfunding campaign, the company is also working with traditional watchmakers and aiming to create collaborative watches.
As always, whether you should back the campaign is the question we try and answer for you here. In the case of Carah, there's a lot to like once you delve into the project.
If it does end up hitting it's funding goal, it's in a good place to bring the device to backers for its January 2018 shipping target. DNX's lead engineer designed and brought to market the LG Pocket Photo, while a manufacturer was sourced at the beginning of the process. Meanwhile, Kwon told us that the firmware inside the watch is completed and both the Android and iOS apps are already developed.
No crowdfunding project is ever certain, with delays relating to manufacturing and suppliers always a risk, but for those looking to pick up an attractive looking hybrid device which emphasises smart safety features, Carah would appear to be a solid option.