SocialRim – the Wearable Skirt Umbrella: A simple yet robust design for social distancing in public

Authors: Prof. P. K. Mishra (Professor at Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology, IIT (BHU), Ex-HOD, Head – MCIIE), Gaurav Kumar Kedia (Co-Founder – Tech-Machinery and More Pvt. Ltd.), Nishant Krishna (Co-Founder – Tech-Machinery and More Pvt. Ltd. | Director – Tech for Social Impact, AIM Foundation)

Edited by: Pragyan Parimita Barik, Editor | Researcher | UN SDG Advocate, AIM Foundation

The current scenario

As of today, the Novel Coronavirus (a.k.a. COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV) has affected 208 countries and territories around the world and has claimed more than 74,000+ (WHO, April 08 data) lives globally.

How do we reduce the chances of being affected by the Coronavirus? There are various ways, for example, maintaining a strict hygiene, keeping our mouth and nose covered with a mask, eating healthy and so on. Add to this, the new social phenomenon called “social distancing” is now the new outdoor etiquette. Social distancing has become the key measure in containing the spread of the pandemic outbreak.

As per Wikipedia, social distancing, or physical distancing, is a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other.

This is more than relevant in today’s world, where coming into close contact of someone infected with COVID-19 can increase our chances of getting infected manifolds.

But what’s the reality with Social Distancing?

We human are social animals. We like to live in the societies / colonies or in social groups while ensuring our “personal spaces”. This definition of the “personal space” may differ from culture to culture, region to region. For example, while  it’s a pretty much normal to stand at a distance of arm’s length from one another in a queue at the grocery shop or a concert or for buying the movie ticket or so, it may be unheard or not understood by many communities. This is why in many places (right from urban cities to villages) it was seen the spots being marked by the shop owners, authorities just to remind consumers of the need to maintain a distance of at least a metre between two people as part of efforts to facilitate social distancing.

Let’s say we get over the problem of respecting the personal space, there are social gestures and bonds which will come in picture at various occasions.

The truth is that social distancing sometimes just seems unnatural in many ways and is so hard to sustain.

As per the social distancing norms, we are supposed to keep at least 6 feet of distance between two people. Sometimes sustaining a distance like this between two people is bound to make one person angry or sad.

SocialRim – The versatile yet functional design concept to enforce social distancing

Tech-Machinery and More Pvt. Ltd. (incubated at MCIIE, IIT- BHU) with the help of AIM Foundation, under the guidance of Prof. P. K. Mishra came up with an interesting concept to assist in social distancing in a natural way. We are calling it “SocialRim”.

The idea is very simple – Why do we need to compromise the fashion quotient in lieu of social distancing?

We came up with a SocialRim gender-neutral skirt, which is also a regular skirt, or an umbrella. The radius of the SocialRim is 3 feet. This means that you are anytime at least 3 feet away if you use it. If other people use it too, the safe distance of 6 feet is maintained at all time.

SocialRim has gone through multiple iterations of design and brainstorming. This is the product of necessity during these tough times.

Design of SocialRim

SocialRim is a fashion accessory fulfilling an essential need

We have made the design versatile so that putting it on a t-shirt/Shirt or hooking with shoulder shall not attract any extra effort every day. You don’t have to change your behavior to suit this wearable cloth.

SocialRim with the strap for wearing it making it a skirt

The SocialRim has hooks with which you can war on top of your regular dress as a fashion accessory when you go out, or just mix and match this with anything you are comfortable with.

SocialRim in the disk shape making it a social distancing tool

It has mechanisms in place using which it can be made into a disk shape with the radius of 3 feet.

The top view of SocialRim and this is how it will look in its umbrella form

As if this was not versatile enough, we came up with another concealed element inside the SocialRim which can make it an umbrella which can be worn on one’s head, like a Mexican Sombrero.

Putting it all together

When it comes to enforcing social distancing while keeping the fashion and versatility quotient high, our design fairs very well.

Our design is a very versatile and functional and can cater to multiple needs of the users. SocialRim can take these forms

  1. Skirt
  2. Social distancing tool
  3. Wearable umbrella

f you want to know more about it or have any feedback/suggestions, please feel free to write to us at info@aim-foundation.org.

Licensing the design for SocialRim

SocialRim is available under “Creative Commons License”, more specifically CC BY-ND 4.0. This license lets others reuse the work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and credit must be provided to AIM Foundation.

If you want to produce SocialRim, please write to us at info@aim-foundation.org and we will be happy to work with you.

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Nishant Krishna

Nishant is Co-founder of a startup on anti-counterfeiting technologies “TechMachinery Labs”, and Head of Technology at “NumberNagar”, apart from actively engaged in the "Tech for Social Impact" initiatives in AIM Foundation. He is an entrepreneur, Software Architect, Innovator and Inventor with many granted and pending patents. He loves exploring and putting to use new ways to solve complex problems in the areas of the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, Security, and UX. Nishant is enthusiastic about public speaking and editing. As an editor, he has edited multiple books, conference papers, and Ph.D. papers. As a writer, he loves to venture into technology as well as non-technology areas on a regular basis. He invests a good part of his time working with non-profit organizations and in mentoring and coaching students and startups. He is working on original research on technology areas like IoT, Security, and Machine Learning, and human psychology areas with a focus on UX and on “increasing productivity by removing the incentives from non-compliance”.