The world continues to progress, but the ancient problems of sexual assault do not seem to subside. One in five women face sexual assault at least once in their lifetime, and 63 percent of such incidents are not even reported. Statistically, the women between ages of 18-34 are at the highest risk of being a rape victim according to Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN). Technology has been making efforts to make life safer for all people on earth with tech products like Safe Shorts and Smart Straw. Now, Massachusetts Institute of Technology just contributed to it with another gadget.
The idea was brought to life by Manisha Mohan, a second-year master’s student, specializing in wearable technology for safety and security and currently working at the MIT Media Lab. Manisha says, “I consider sexual assault a disease in our society.” She made it a mission to eradicate the disease from the society, and she made it happen with a garment sticker, that can attach to any clothing you wouldn’t wish to be forcibly removed.
The technology used in the device is called Intrepid, that tracks the wearer’s location via Bluetooth. It works in both active and passive mode, where the passive one allows you to tap on a button that activates the alert feature when stuck in a dangerous situation while being conscious.
The active system continuously gains information about the force around the garment. Whenever it senses force, it prompts the user asking if they consented. If the app does not get a response from the user in 30 seconds, it begins to buzz a noise for 20 more seconds. Once the noise ends, the user’s location is sent to all the contacts that have been set up in the safety circle to inform them of the dangerous condition.
Women are not the only victims of sexual assault as men have been reported to face such issues as well. These incidents mostly go unreported due to the stigmas attached to the act, but this sticker is not limited to women only. Mohan writes, “Our clothing design is based on input from sexual assault survivors, 338 online participants, 67 volunteers and 20 users who helped us understand the real world feasibility of our system. Users evaluated the clothing appeal, functionality, cultural sensitivity and provided feedback on their general sense of security wearing the smart clothing.”
A higher number of children than men face the issues of sexual assault and the Intrepid technology caters to those as well. These children may not press the button in Passive mode. Thus, the Active mode is quite a requirement.
The goal is to become a society free of the sexual assault trauma. “We believe our techno-social approach can help improve user safety and prevent sexual assault.”