How This Wearable Helps Protect a Potential Rape Victim

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An Indian MIT student has developed a smart wearable device designed to combat sexual assault by reacting in real-time – even if the wearer is unconscious.

Just the mention of the term “sexual violence” disturbs and frightens. It calls forth images that echo our fears as parents, women, men and as citizens.

Unfortunately, many of these images, including the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape and the recent debate around consent on college campuses and legal protections in the U.S., have been all too present in the media in what seems like an epidemic that is not bound by gender.

Sexual abuse is something that we are all confronted with and victimized by, whether directly through our own experiences or indirectly through those close to us.

Global Epidemic of Sexual Abuse

Per Rainn.org, someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds in the U.S. alone.

One out of six women in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault- a rape victim figure that includes attempted attacks.

Every day around the world, sexual violence affects thousands of the nearly one billion women and girls will be assaulted in their lifetime.

It is also important to note that men are not immune from sexual abuse.

Many more victims worldwide remain unaccounted for because some crimes go unreported.

Over the years, countless solutions have been developed with the intent of helping people deter sexual assault, and even combat their assailant.

Intrepid, a smart wearable that helps protect against sexual assault.Click To Tweet

These could take the form of devices designed to alert others and emergency services, such as whistles and emergency buttons. Or even more offensive measures designed to incapacitate like tasers and pepper spray.

However, most of these solutions imply that the victim must be conscious since they require manual activation. In many cases, this is not possible.

An MIT researcher hoping to offer a comprehensive solution to any potential rape victim has developed a smart wearable device.

How Intrepid Protects a Potential Rape Victim

Manisha Mohan, a research assistant at the MIT Media Lab, has created a wearable sensor that is capable of detecting, communicating and deterring sexual assault attempts in real-time.

What’s more, the device has two modes so it can be activated even if the potential rape victim is unconscious.

Called Intrepid, the sensor takes the form of a sticker that can attach to any piece of clothing and is washing machine safe. The sensor is coupled with a smart phone app that creates a comprehensive alert and response system.

The smart sensor is designed to detect how clothing is removed, meaning that it can be trained to recognize when a garment is removed in an unusual, forceful or aggressive way.

If the sensor detects that the wearers clothing is being removed in what it interprets to be an abnormal way, it will send a confirmation of consent message to the wearer’s smartphone.

If the wearer does not confirm consent within 30 seconds, the app will send alerts to up to five emergency contacts and even emergency services in the case that the wearer is unconscious.

According to Mohan, the sensor has already been tested on 70 people who confirmed it to be comfortable and non-intrusive.

While Intrepid is still in the prototype phase and is not yet ready for commercial sale, its potential impact in helping to both deter and combat instances of sexual assault for both women and men of any age is clear.

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