Thursday, September 4, 2014

US Students Developing Nail Polish That Detects Dating Rape Drugs

Four students at North Carolina State University say they’ve developed nail polish that can help women detect a date rape drug in their cocktails.

The polish is still a work in progress, but the science and engineering students are already marketing their enterprise, Undercover Colors, as “the first fashion company empowering women to prevent sexual assault.”

The nail polish changes colour when it comes into contact with commonly used date-rape drugs, including Xanax, GHB and Rohypnol. If a woman at a party or a bar suspects that her drink has been spiked, all she has to do is dip her finger in the cup.

Undercover Colors’ website and social media pages don’t explain in detail how the nail polish works. The four male students behind the project, Ankesh Madan, Stephen Gray, Tasso Von Windheim and Tyler Confrey-Maloney, are currently seeking donations to refine their prototype.

The students have already won an entrepreneurship competition sponsored by their university and secured $100,000 from an investor interested in their product.

In an interview earlier this summer, Madan said he and his colleagues came up with the idea for the nail polish after thinking about how to address “big problems in our society” and discussing date rape drugs.

“All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on finding a way to help prevent the crime,” Madan told Higher Education Works.

“Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime,” the nail polish developers wrote on their Facebook page.

The invention has received encouragement, praise and criticism on social media. While many Facebook users posted supportive messages for the Undercover Colors team, some users who are sounding off on Reddit are not so sure about the product.

“Sticking your finger in your glass isn't very convenient,” wrote one Reddit user. “Also, its dirty and nasty, especially at a bar where you've touched god knows what.”

Others noted that drug-detecting stir sticks would be more convenient and hygienic. But one commenter countered with: “I'd be willing to run the risk of getting a cold over being date raped.”


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