Walking along an empty street at night in her college town, Kat Alexander was suddenly confronted by a man who wouldn't let her continue along her path. Luckily, she got out of the situation unharmed, but it did leave her with an idea.
Years later, that idea has now come to life in the form of the SIREN ring. With its large, colorful stone and metallic base, the SIREN ring looks just like a piece of statement jewelry you could find in any boutique in Soho. But look, or rather listen, closely, and the SIREN ring can unleash a loud, high-pitched alarm with the aim of repelling any potential attackers.
"There's so many women in my life that I care about and have been in similar situations to what I've experienced. They've always said it's always unexpected, and it happens so quickly that you're either struck down with sudden terror or you freeze. You can't scream. You can't run," Alexander said in an interview with T-Lounge at the launch event for the SIREN ring. "The idea of having something that you have the easiest access to, something that is second nature, something that you don't have to be actively anticipating an attack to have immediate access to, it's a fundamental need, I think, for all personal devices."
Wearers of the SIREN ring can just twist the top counterclockwise, and the ring will let out an initial couple of beeps to let you know it's activated. After about 1.5 seconds, the ring will unleash the alarm, a blaring noise of more than 110 decibels. There are apertures, or holes, along the top of the ring that project sound outward.
"The closer it gets, the more uncomfortable it is," Alexander said as she demonstrated the alarm.
There are several mobile apps and wearable devices for personal security that have entered the market in the past couple of years. Many of them include a function that allows users to alert emergency contacts or law enforcement if they feel like they're being threatened or are in danger. The SIREN ring doesn't have this function. The ring was intended to test the effectiveness of the SIREN's alarm and keep the device as simple to use as possible, according to Alexander. Solely having the first responders function may also just not be as effective in helping the user immediately get out of danger.
"While alerting first-responders I think is a wonderful secondary option, what I think is most important is to offer a woman immediate assistance during those first few vital seconds, because to disrupt the attack at the onset, to deter them right away is far more beneficial than something that will take five or 10 minutes to actually get to you, in which case, the act itself could already be completed," Alexander said. However, Alexander also said that they are working on incorporating a first responders function in the second generation of the SIREN ring.
The device currently comes in green, vermillion or lavender-colored stones with a gold or silver base. The rings cost $249 each and are available in the official SIREN ring shop. They are being manufactured now and are scheduled to ship within the next three to five weeks, according to Alexander.
There isn't much data available on the effectiveness of personal security devices, so it's difficult to say how helpful a device like the SIREN ring would be in an actual life-threatening situation. Would a potential threat really be deterred by an irritating and attention-grabbing sound? Possibly, but if you're out in the middle of nowhere with no one else around either, there's the possibility of a potential attacker remaining unfazed as well.
Still, wearing the SIREN ring is better than having no protection whatsoever, and if it makes women feel safer and more empowered, there's certainly nothing wrong with that.
The SIREN ring "is something that is immediately going to shift their perception of you from being completely isolated and vulnerable to someone that is in a position of power and authority," Alexander said. "We want to give women control."