In a bid to combat child sexual abuse, college campus assault and abuse of elderly and disabled, MIT researcher Manisha Mohan has created a smart device that detects, communicates and helps prevent sexual assault in real time.
The device, called Intrepid, is a smart sticker that attaches to any piece of clothing and connects to an app on the user's smartphone via Bluetooth. It responds to initial signs of assault such as forced disrobing and sends out a distress signal to trusted contacts selected by the wearer on the accompanying app.
The proposed smart sticker operates in two modes – active and passive. The active mode is for instances when the victim is "unconscious or cannot fight against the assaulter", while the passive mode allows the victim self-actuate the safety mechanism. Both ways, a distress signal with victim's geolocation is released to alert friends, family and emergency services for help.
Intrepid uses a combination of microprocessor and sensors to memorize how a person typically takes off their clothes. Then, in the case of an emergency, when the device detects something different from a usual routine, it sends out a message asking if the person consents. If the user answers this notification negatively or does not answer within 30 seconds, a loud alarm is raised to alert people and a distress notification is sent out to five contacts. The smart sticker also starts recording audio for legal evidence and calls one of the contacts immediately.
The real world functionality of Intrepid has been tested on 70 volunteers, and so far, most of them have found the tiny adhesive device comfortable. It can also survive repeated wash cycles and last for up to two years, as noted by Quartz.
But, it's also worth noting that the functionality of this device is limited to smartphone and Bluetooth connectivity. If the user loses their phone in a distress situation, the smart-sticker won't do any good.
To address this, the inventors are now working to create a slightly tweaked model that would function even without being tethered to a phone.