Monday, August 27, 2007

The Aphrodite Project

Apple and Nike have come up with a shoe-cum-iTunes-cum-iPod nano marketing scheme aimed at Macolyte joggers and keep-fit fiends. The shoes carry a sensor and there is a receiver on the iPod nano. Using Wi-fi technology information such as distance travelled and time taken is transmitted to an earpiece. The wearer can also listen to music at a touch of a button. The Aphrodite Project has taken the concept of wearable technology forward into an area which is both practical and with safety in mind. The Wi-fi technology has been built into fashionable platform sandals made for sex workers. Each sandal has an audible alarm system, which when activated emits a piercing noise to scare off attackers. The sandals are also fitted with a built in GPS receiver and an emergency button that relays both the location of the shoes and a silent alarm signal to public emergency services. Depending on the legality of prostitution, if law enforcement cannot be used the signal goes to sex workers' rights groups, such as PONY in New York, COYOTE in Los Angeles, or SWEAT in South Africa. Platform shoes have long been associated with sex workers and ‘the marriage’ of historical fashion and modern technology is not without irony. The Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) used was originally developed in the late 70’s by the US Naval Academy Satellite Lab and its application to sex workers acknowledges the function they perform to the public and the dangers they face in their profession. Similar GPS technology have now been put to security purpose on some US
university campuses with the Rave Wireless's Rave Guardian, which allows students to use their mobile phone as a personal alarm device.

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