The Tego app and the Nimb Ring are both smart safety measures invented by female survivors of physical attacks by strangers. Not only do Tego and Nimb represent inspiring examples of transforming vulnerability into empowerment, they’re also standouts in the ever-increasing field of safety apps and wearables.
Tego, the app for a safe walk home
Friends and family members, especially women, often tell one another, “Text me when you get home.” This common way of looking out for loved ones has limitations, and it’s also easy to forget to follow up once you get home. Enter Tego, the app that makes sure you never walk alone. It borrows its name from “Protego,” a protective spell in the Harry Potter universe that deflects harmful hexes.
Tego allows its users to identify friends and family members as “protectors”. Once the user starts walking, driving, or any other type of trip, protectors receive real-time updates with location information either directly through Tego or via text message. Alerts are sent at the beginning and end of the trip, or if the user chooses to alert protectors that they feel unsafe. The app also features a safety alarm and optional live video recording.
Safety.com learned the Tego story from co-founder Angela Rucci, who graduates with a Computer Science degree from Ohio State University (OSU) this month. “I’m from a small town. During my first week at Ohio State, I was physically attacked while shopping at a grocery store,” she told us. “After that, I pretty much always relied on my dad and called him whenever I went anywhere.” That wasn’t such a good idea, she noted. Talking on the phone is a distraction. If you feel unsafe, you need to pay attention to your surroundings.
The app finally came into fruition during a 24-hour hackathon at OSU in 2018 – where it took first place. Tego hit the iOS App Store just two months ago and has since attracted 2,000 users. It’s expected to become available for Android in August.
“There’s an important community aspect to Tego,” says Rucci. “I felt strongly that a friend, not a call center, cares the most about your safety.” She noted that many Tego users are even starting to use the app when they’re on the way to meet one another, adding to the community aspect even more.
Tego uses smartphone location services to track a user’s whereabouts, but only does so during active trips. All location data is encrypted to ensure that it cannot be used maliciously.
Rucci and her team will continue to improve the app by adding more community-based features and premium additions like automatic trip tracking. (Right now, the user needs to indicate the start of the trip before they can put their phone in their pockets and pay attention to their surroundings.) Don’t expect its core features to become cost-prohibitive, however. In Rucci’s words, “Safety should be free.”
Nimb, a smart ring with a discreet panic button
Think of the Nimb Ring as a chic take on a personal medical alert or panic button. Worn on the finger like any other ring, Nimb has a concealed button that discreetly notifies emergency contacts and shares location information when pressed and held for three seconds.
Nimb co-founder Kathy Roma is a survivor of a violent street attack who shared her harrowing experience in this video (warning: the retelling is graphic). A call for help saved her life. If she had a device like the Nimb Ring, which issues alerts without the need to speak or reach for a phone, she could have summoned help more quickly and easily.
Nimb users customize alert preferences through the ring’s accompanying app. Choose to alert friends and family, first responders and/or nearby Nimb members when the panic button is pressed. U.S. users can also issue alerts to Nimb’s 24/7 professionally staffed emergency monitoring stations.
The Nimb Ring is less orthopedic-looking than similar technology like Life Alert, so it wouldn’t look too out of place as daily wear. It’s also less expensive than some other professionally monitored panic buttons. The ring itself is free with a Nimb subscription, which start at $29.95 per month. It is available in black or white, in eight different ring sizes.