New App Lets You Click Your Way Out of a Bad Date

Dorothy App
With three clicks of the heels, the Ruby triggers your cellphone to either receive a call from a fake contact or text your location to up to three friends. Maggie Winters

Ebola. ISIS. Downed airlines. Ukraine. 2014 threw up some confounding dilemmas. Our "Silver Bullets" series comes to the rescue with seven big solutions to some of the most complex problems the world is facing. But we also decided to turn our attention to some of the world's smallest problems, from getting out of a date with a click of your heels to an eternal question: Where am I going to find the perfect dive-bar T-shirt?

Each day for a week, we'll roll out one idea dreamed up by an enthusiastic entrepreneur or company to solve a problem that seems quite small in the context of the world's biggest issues, petty even. Unless it's your problem. Are these solutions as important, and as inspiring, as our "silver bullets"? No, but they prove once again that there are no limits to human ingenuity—or to the messes humans can cook up.

Ever been on a bad date and prayed for a polite way to excuse yourself? Well, now it's as simple as clicking your heels.

Meet Dorothy, a new take on wearable technology that makes your ordinary shoes smart. The Dorothy app syncs your smartphone to the Ruby, a small, Bluetooth-enabled device that clips into your shoe. With three clicks of the heels, your cellphone is triggered to either receive a call from a fake contact or text your location to up to three friends, whichever you preprogram it to do.

Since iStrategy Labs unveiled the Dorothy prototype back in October, news of the product's existence has quickly spread across the Internet and onto morning talk shows. While the fascination with Dorothy can partially be attributed to the recent hype surrounding wearable technology (which this is a unique take on), there's something else driving the intrigue.

"Bringing something that is culturally relevant to life through new technology is super-cool," gushes DJ Saul, managing director and chief marketing officer of iStrategy Labs, a Washington, D.C.-based digital agency that created the product. "But I'd also like to think it is in the name and the magic of the user experience itself."

While there is certainly no place like home when you are stuck on a terrible date, is this tribute to the Wizard of Oz the best method of escape?

"There seems to be plenty of anecdotal fuel for this fire," contends Saul. "And say [having someone] call your phone is your weapon of choice for getting out of a weird situation.... Then I would argue that doing it phone-free is incredibly efficient."

Dorothy is still in beta form and is not expected to become available on the market until after the creators explore the product's potential, as well as interested investors. The team is looking to make the Ruby a third of its current size, which could mean placing it on clothing items like collars and belt buckles. They also hope to expand on the possibilities for triggers, which may soon include calling an Uber or ordering your favorite pizza. Saul even sees a life-saving potential for Dorothy, which may act as a panic button to get users out of dangerous situations.

But for now, Dorothy only promises to help you give a bad date the ruby slip-er.