Walking sefely

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The Story Behind

Start walking safely now.

Habor is a San Francisco-based group of engineers, product developers and designers who use current mobile technology in innovative ways. Our members grew up all over the world, and are alumni of MIT, Harvard, Parsons, UC Berkeley and UW. We understand that universities foster strong ties and believe in building safe harbors for people. Our goal is to empower individual safety by strengthening community connections. We work in cooperation with different colleges, and are funded by Samsung Research America, Inc.

  • Product Design
  • Samsung Accelerator
  • Mobile application
  • 2015
  • http://www.goharbor.com

  • Our goal is to foster safer local communities through technology. Harbor enables trustworthy individuals from your community to look out for you when you feel unsafe.

The problem

The idea for this product started with a specific need. Watching the news, we constantly see cases of people that was assaulted on the street during a walk. With the power of the technology that we have in our pockets, would we able to prevent those cases? I believe so.

Product Vision

To make this product feasible, we translated the user need to a service that users would have access in their Smartphones. The main challenge was to figure out the business model. Hazards are usually unexpected events, so how could we encourage people to use the service often enough to prevent it? We wanted to make that fun to use, almost like a game. We wanted to connect people to other people in the community and create a network that encourages safety.

User Research

We first tried to find an area that would give us opportunity to explore this reality and to do "real-time" tests. We found that UC Berkeley campus has a high index of assaults of pedestrians. We decided to start there. We interviewed several students and ran couple of surveys in order to understand the reality of their needs.


During several group workshops, meetings and brainstorms, we discussed several directions in which our product could go. It was hard to find the right balance of gamification for a product that requires seriousness.


For the logo and overall branding, we explored many options. We experimented different applications to see if those options would work or not. But maybe, the most important test was the user tests. People would read differently to the logo. At some point, we realized that creating a emotional connection with the logo was important for the product. When people saw the legs, that emotional connection was immediately created. We then, decided on that direction and that was made to stick.

Typography and colors

To create a soft response to a service that is somehow driven through fear, we decided to use pastel colors and friendly illustrations to complement the user interface.

The Walker

At one side, we have that person who is walking. This person needs to provide basic information like destination, emergency contacts and pysical description. The destination will help us to identify if the person is walking to the intended direction. Emergency contacts and pysical description will help us to act in case of emergency.

The Guardian

The guardian is a person that, with a basic trainning, would be able to follow the person who is walking and be ready to act in case of emergency. In order to motivate, guardians can earn badges, swag and other braggable points for every person they help.

Enter destination

Users are able to easily enter destinations. Frequent destinations are saved to facilitate next experiences.

Starting a walk

Once the destination is entered, user immediately see the link between current location and destination. That will also represent the user’s progress during the walk on the map.

Contacting guardians

At the moment that the user starts a walk, guardians are contacted and cartoonish faces start to pop up.

Expanding and Collapsing

The map on the screen can easily be collapsed if the user wants to check anything on the map.

Guardians' side

At the guardian's side, guardians are asked a simple question: "How much time do you have to follow walks?". The system automatically organizes the walk in a way that the guardian can be efficient in follow walks during that specific time.

Following walks

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Harbor uses machine learning to identify differences patterns in the walk and then, automatically react if: the user stops for a long time, user walks to a different direction, user gets in a car, user aggressively shakes phone. The robots will ask the user if everything is ok. If the user doesn’t not respond in time, human action would be requested. And that is when the guardians will act.


After the user experience was more clear for the team, we were finally ready to prepare the on-boarding screens. The on-boarding screens explain the concept of the app in a few words and three screens (Guardians, Harbot and Emergency Response).

User Testing

Berkeley Campus

We tested the application at the Berkely campus. We had the collaboration of the campus police and students.

User Insights

The user tests showed us that the application needed more guidance and a stronger value proposition. With that, we added more guidance to the screen as well a "demo walk".

Next Steps: Pilot and Launch

Community Involvement

As we talk with students about the product, the interest among the community increases.


We did the pilot at University of Berkeley to test the interest and improve the product. The next steps will involve to expand the network to other campuses and off-campus areas.