Of late, one of the biggest issues that India, the second most populous country of the world, is facing is of women safety. The country’s capital, New Delhi, has recently reported a high number of rape cases against women. Protests from citizens have lead to higher vigilance from the police to prevent such cases in the future.
While measures are being taken to prevent such cases in the future, one of the things that is often overlooked is the victim herself. Together Radio is a concept that is targeted at women victims of rape. 70% of India’s population today is rural. Research reveals that most crimes against women within these areas often go unreported, resulting in a high number of victims of crime. Research papers by the Canadian government have recognised support groups to be one of the most critical needs for victims of rape. Most victims of rape also want to stay anonymous, one of the major reasons why many end up not reporting.
Unlike urban places like New Delhi, rural India has very closely knit community structures. Imagine a community where people know each other by face or name including the job they do. Hence in such an environment, forming an anonymous support group is very difficult. Together Radio aims to meet this need by connecting such victims from different parts of the country and giving them a platform to share.
Promoting anonymity and guided through principles of Faceless Interaction, Together Radio enables a one sided live narration from the victim while other victims can join in to listen and sympathise with her through touch. I conducted research experiments to see how people express altruistic emotions such as Happiness and Sympathy through touch. The research paved the foundation for designing tactile interactions through the radio. The radio has a cushion on the back and a slot to put hands inside in the middle. It features two modes, Share and Listen. While in Share, a victim puts her hands inside the radio and start speaking. Other people who put the radio in listen mode, are anonymously connected to a randomly selected live sharer. While the victim is narrating her most difficult moments, listeners can press into the cushion as a gesture of squeezing the narrator’s hands. The narrator, with her hands inside the radio, feels these tactile emotions on her hand as the radio cushion mimics these gestures to her.
To provide feedback, the narrator feels haptic feedback in the form of clicks, on her thumbs every time a listener joins to listen to her. As and when more listeners join in, the insides keep getting warmer for the narrator, somewhat literally signifying the analogy of human warmth.
Together Radio is a working prototype made to understand and refine the concept. The cushion has conductive thread that detects when the listener presses the cushion. Everything including the heat pad, motor and haptic motors inside are controlled by an Arduino. The entire body was milled out of wood.