‘Smart stickers’: Wearable tech will ‘cure disease of sexual assault’, says MIT researcher
The invention, known as a ‘smart sticker’, attaches to any piece of clothing and connects to an app on the wearer’s phone via Bluetooth. The stickers pick up on the initial signs of assault like forced disrobing. In the case of an emergency, the device emits a distress signal while one in five contacts are called or sent a text.
Intrepid, the firm that makes the product, says the stickers will combat sexual abuse of children, rapes on college campuses as well as abuse of elderly and disabled.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
The device was created by MIT researcher Manisha Mohan. Mohan says she considers sexual assault “a disease in our society, which needs an immediate cure.”
The technology works in “active” and “passive” modes. The active mode is for instances when the victim is unconscious or cannot fight against the assailant, for example in the case of infants, intoxicated people or the elderly. The passive mode is for when the victim can use the safety mechanism themselves.
Intrepid tested the device on about 70 people and most said they found it non-intrusive. Both modes release distress signals to prevent an assault in real-time.
Intrepid says that a person is sexually abused in the US every 98 seconds, while a woman in the US is murdered by her romantic partner or ex-partner every 16 hours.