Thanks to four college students, there may soon be a lifesaving nail polish.
Students in the Materials Science & Engineering department at North Carolina State University have come together to invent a nail polish that will change color when it comes in contact with certain drugs often used to drug women, including Rohypnol, Xanax, and GHB.
The nail polish, called Undercover Colors, is marketing itself as “The First Fashion Company Empowering Women To Prevent Sexual Assault,” although it's still a work in progress.
While it is not a victim's job to prevent sexual assault, nor is a victim responsible for an assault, the team is hoping to empower women by giving them an easy way to detect if certain commonly used date-rape drugs have been added to their drinks.
The team — Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Stephen Gray, Ankesh Madan, and Tasso Von Windheim — described their product on their Facebook page, saying that a woman will have to stick her finger in her drink and stir:
While date rape drugs are often used to facilitate sexual assault, very little science exists for their detection. Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime.
For our first product, we are developing a nail polish that changes color when it comes into contact with date-rape drugs. With our nail polish, any woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety by simply stirring her drink with her finger. If her nail polish changes color, she'll know that something is wrong.
Undercover Colors was a finalist at the K50 Startup Showcase, where the team received $100,000 from an investor who saw their product demo.
They've also won $11,250 from a contest held by North Carolina State's Entrepreneurship Initiative for "students from all disciplines to collaborate to develop solutions to real world challenges."
The men thought of the product because they all know somebody personally who has been sexually assaulted.
"We were thinking about big problems in our society, the topic of drug-facilitated sexual assault came up," Madan told Higher Education Works.
"All of us have been close to someone who has been through the terrible experience, and we began to focus on preventive solutions, especially those that could be integrated into products that women already use. And so the idea of creating a nail polish that detects date rape drugs was born."