What can you do if you're worried about an odorless, colorless date rape drug in your drink? Throw it out? Soon, you may be able to just dip your nail into the drink.
Four students at North Caroline State University have developed a cosmetic line of nail polishes that change color when they come in contact with Xanax, GHB or Rohypnol.
These drugs are the most common date rape drugs, so the team, which consists of Stephen Gray, Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Ankesh Madan and Tasso Von Windheim, hoped to develop a way of discreetly testing drinks for these specific drugs.
They aim to empower women to prevent sexual assault. They also want to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators. They hope with this new product, sexual assaulters will be less likely to spike a woman's drink out of fear of getting caught.
The line of nail polishes, called Undercover Colors, hopes to provide another line of defense to prevent women from this "heinous and quietly pervasive crime."
According to the company's Facebook page, "In the US, 18 percent of women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. That's almost one out of every five women in our country. We may not know who they are, but these women are not faceless. They are our daughters, they are our girlfriends and they are our friends."
The company has just raised $100,000 from one investor, and it has won a competition that came with a monetary prize.
Unfortunately for incoming college students, the nail polish is still undergoing testing, but there are other products such as straws and coasters that have the ability to detect date rape drugs.
"We'd love to take Undercover Colors to the next level and take our product to the market," Madan said. "Near-term, we're focusing on technical development and market testing. We plan to focus on business development and refining our prototype before going to production."
Though the traditional rules such as "don't leave your drink unattended" or "be smart" are important for preventing date rape, this is a useful tool that actually empowers women and punishes perpetrators, rather than admonishing women and blaming them for not being cautious.