Opioid overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions. Because of stigma, people are using alone. Increased potency in the illicit drug supply is causing respiratory depression, stifling the ability to call for help that is often nearby. Eliza’s Watch summons help while there is still time to save a life.
Eliza’s Watch functions as a simple non-identifying, non-stigmatizing watch. It has only one function in this basic modality: to tell time. Prior to drug use, the person enables “Eliza’s Watch” mode. This is an important step to highlight, as it indicates the need and desire for harm reduction on the part of the person using the device. This starts a background timer that resets with purposeful motion. If the person should become motionless for 60 seconds, the watch sends a silent haptic (vibration) signal to the wrist, in an attempt to evoke a response and reset the timer. If the person remains motionless for 15 additional seconds, an audible alarm and haptic signal are triggered. If an additional 15 seconds elapse with no detected motion, a public alarm is triggered, loud enough to attract help to the person. The watch also broadcasts a bluetooth radio signal to trigger a response from an optionally pre-paired smartphone.
The companion smartphone application can be downloaded, free of charge, to an Apple or Android smartphone. Initial configuration consists of pairing the phone with an Eliza’s Watch. The person is only asked to provide a first name, and an optional note. They are then asked to grant permission to the app to access their contacts. They are asked to identify the contacts in their list they trust to be contacted in the event of an emergency. The final question is a surprising result of our research; people want the choice whether or not to call Emergency Services (EMS).
When the phone is triggered by the watch reaching the third alarm, the phone sends a text message to the pre-selected trusted contacts, and to EMS if pre-selected. The message contains the person’s (first) name, date/time stamp, optional message, and standard message: “<name> is possibly experiencing opioid overdose symptoms at <address> on <date-time>”
Regarding the market research behind our product, we interviewed over 100 people including those with OUD, family members, recovery coaches, doctors, clinicians, and professionals. Our research shows that people are primarily using to attempt to feel ‘normal’ again, to be able to function. These people do not want to die and often practice innovative harm-reduction techniques. Over 90% of people interviewed approved the concept of Eliza’s Watch. 87% of people with OUD who were interviewed said they would use this device if it were provided to them, and 100% of the families interviewed said they supported this device and would pay any amount of money for it.
We have deployed a beta release of Eliza’s Watch v.2.0. It is currently installed on multiple smartwatches and is undergoing face validity testing with key stakeholders. While the platform of a smartwatch lends itself to development, it is not the ultimate distribution platform, due to its high street value.
Eliza’s Watch is a unique solution. It empowers people who use drugs by arming them with a harm reduction tool. Eliza’s Watch is safe, anonymous, non-identifying, and non-stigmatizing. It is affordable and holds little-to-no street value.