The new leopardskin Taser/MP3 player. Seriously

I’m sure I had a similar reaction to most people when I heard about the new leopardskin Taser zapper/MP3 player: really? REALLY? Add to that a shudder of horror at the very idea of leopardskin, plus the knowledge that I’m simply not a weapon-wielding kind of person, and I thought I’d be going about my day as usual.

But Taser could be onto something. Honestly. Hear me out.

If you live in a big city, chances are you commute via public transport. And the majority of people I see each day as I travel to and from work are listening to some kind of music device. Everyone travels around in their own little bubble, entirely oblivious to what's going on about them. Many commentators have analyzed the cultural and social implications of this urban bubble-living, which is a vast and hugely interesting topic in its own right, but on a very basic level it has huge implications for security.

For a time, I lived in a fairly remote neighborhood in Brooklyn, and made a point of disconnecting myself from iPod and reconnecting myself to reality whenever I got off the subway and walked the ten or so blocks home. In those days, there was also a lot of chatter about how the white iPod headphones marked people out as robbery targets, so it was top of mind, but I wonder how this has evolved as iPods have become more ubiquitous and people forget that drifting around in a bubble, even one with a fabulous soundtrack, might have unfortunate consequences.

This week's New York magazine has a map detailing the number of rapes, murders, robberies and attacks in various neighborhoods. It made sobering reading. And while, for me, the idea of pulling out a Taser and zapping someone should the unthinkable happen is not a happy thought (I'd surely just zap myself by mistake) the blend of music and self-defence isn't quite as ludicrous as I'd first imagined.

(For the record, and judging only by the picture below so perhaps it's not so awful in the flesh, the leopardskin *is* hideous. And see also the article we ran a while back, when Taser first turned pink, for a whole other discussion on the merits and challenges of designing for a specifically female audience.)