Imagine if your clothes could protect you from sexual assault - it's not that far fetched. Manisha Mohan, a grad student and researcher at MIT's Living Mobile lab, has created a stick-on wearable that you can attach to your clothes, your bra or your underwear that can actively or passively detect if the item of clothing is being forcibly removed.
The stick-on - Intrepid - is adhesive, it's made up of a couple of conductive layers and hydrogel, and can be tapped to activate a distress signal (via Bluetooth) in the form of an alarm, a text message to five chosen family members or friends and a recorded phone call to one to emergency contact.
The 'active mode', designed for people who may be bed-ridden, disabled or elderly but also at times where a victim might be intoxicated or even unconscious, triggers the safety responses without the need for input. It sends a text message to the user's phone to check which has to be responded to within 30 seconds.
Particularly with this mode, you can see how this wouldn't be practical to wear everyday but Mohan, in her video for the Intrepid project, points out examples of when this would be useful - for instance, for women in India to wear when walking alone at night instead of adhering to a curfew for their own safety.
She is especially interested in detecting and preventing college campus assaults, child sex abuse and the abuse of elderly and disabled people.
Mohan and her team surveyed 338 sexual assault survivors on factors like design, functionality and cultural sensitivity. Plus she is also researching how olfactory stimuli, based on how smell affects sexual arousal, could be built into the device to provide a more immediate prevention method. A great project and the video is well worth a watch.
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