Technology that aims to prevent sexual assault through empowerment

MIT researchers work to develop a smart sticker that detects if clothing is being removed (MIT Lab Photo)
MIT researchers work to develop a smart sticker that detects if clothing is being removed (MIT Lab Photo)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (KXAN/NBC News) — Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are developing a wearable technology to help victims of potential sexual assault, even if they’re not conscious.

One in five women is sexually assaulted or raped while in college. Researchers hope the Intrepid Smart Sticker can reduce that number. The technology can be worn anywhere and will sense if clothing is being removed. It then connects with a smartphone app to alert up to five people in case of an emergency.

“If we just shifted from how to protect a victim to ‘how do we equip a bystander,’ I think we could make some real progress to keep these crimes from occurring,” said Dr. Annelise Mennicke from UNC Charlotte’s school of social work. She has been working on sexual assault prevention measures for seven years.

Other safety devices have already hit the market. One is called the Roar Athena that people can wear and alert trusted contacts to their location and status. The Revolar Instinct is a similar, keychain-like device with a button to push for help. There’s also a nail polish in development called Undercover Colors that can detect date-rape drugs.

To learn more about bystander intervention, consent education and survivor support, visit itsonus.org.

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