It's incredibly uplifting to know that great minds are still putting a great deal of effort into making women safe. Thankfully, that means we're finally seeing technology being used to help women at risk of being sexually abused.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have just come up with a technology known as Intrepid, a sticker that is able to detect when a woman is being undressed or when she's subjected to forceful handling. It can be attached to a piece of clothing or underwear and it works as a wearable safety device, Mashable reports.
Pairing clothing and technology, Engineers at MIT are working on a project to combat sexual abuse. https://t.co/mvcKVKMpCc— Engineering Village (@EngVillage) August 3, 2017
Once the technology is triggered by the piece of clothing being ripped or removed abruptly, the sticker acts as an alarm, sending a message to an app on the user's phone that asks her to confirm whether she consents to the act. If the user doesn't answer within 20 seconds, a loud alarm goes off and the sticker sends the woman's location to a list of pre-set contacts, warning about her situation.
Immediately after the alarm goes off, the sticker also records the sounds of what is going on in the surroundings. In case the woman is assaulted, the audio can then be used in investigations or for other legal ends.
But what if the system fails and it doesn't detect someone being aggressive toward the victim? Intrepid has a solution for that as well.
If the user is being assaulted but forcible touch isn't detected, then she may manually activate it either by reaching out to the sticker or to a separate button that can be placed in another piece of clothing.
The technology was developed by MIT researcher Manisha Mohan.
According to Intrepid's developer, sexual assault is a “disease in a society,” so the idea for the wearable device came because she wanted to empower women and to let them know that they can be their own protectors.
“We don't need bodyguards,” she said. "I think I should have the ability to protect myself and should be able to be standing alone for myself. That's what I would want this product to do.”
In order to come up with something that works, she interviewed real victims and used feedback from several others such as “sexual assault survivors, 338 online participants, 67 volunteers and 20 users who helped us understand the real world feasibility of our system.”
She also got feedback from users to know whether the technology was both functional and appealing, and whether users actually felt safe while wearing it. After hearing what users had to say, she says she and her team “believe our technosocial approach can help improve user safety and prevent sexual assault.”
If this technology becomes available to a greater number of women, then perhaps, Intrepid may be the answer to a world growing increasingly dangerous for women. Especially here in the United States where some believe things could only get worse once President Donald Trump's Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos puts an end to laws that protect sexual assault survivors.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Jorge Silva