A graduate of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts is raising money to develop and sell a new product that he says could greatly reduce the incidence of date rape.
Mike Abramson, a 2005 WPI grad, has launched DrinkSavvy, a company devoted to making drinkware that changes color when certain substances are added to the drink. He received a $12,500 grant from his alma mater to begin developing drinking glasses, plastic cups, straws and stirrers which could be used in bars or at parties to detect when a drink has been tampered with.
The technology for drug detection already exists in the form of GHB tabs, which test for that drug. Now it's just a matter of creating an easy convenient test for other date-rape drugs. But Abramson, currently an IP attorney at Holland & Knight in Boston, doesn't have a background in chemistry, as he explained to NECN. His bachelor's degree from WPI was in electrical and computer engineering, and he received a law degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
So he's working with WPI chemistry professor Dr. John MacDonald to develop material that will immediately change color when something is slipped in a drink, specifically checking for GHB, ketamine and rohypnol.
For Abramson, date-rape is a personal issue. He explained on the fundraising site Indiegogo: "[W]ithin the past three years, three of my close friends, and myself, have been the unwitting victims of consuming an odorless, colorless, and tasteless drug slipped into our drink." Abramson wrote he was drugged at a bar in Boston.
A 2005 Department of Justice report found about 4 percent of sexual assault victims had been surreptitiously drugged. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, seniors in high school or first-year college students are most likely to experience date rape, and the National Institute of Justice estimates one-fifth to one-fourth of women in college are victims of sexual assault, and alcohol often plays a role in those cases.
Abramson hopes to make DrinkSavvy products available at college health centers,in addition to convincing bars near campus to stock them. His goal, he says, is to "convince bars, clubs, and colleges to make DrinkSavvy the new safety standard."
The advantage of DrinkSavvy's products, Abramson says, would be their practicality. Users wouldn't have to do anything other than simply look at their cup to check for tampering.
“DrinkSavvy products do not require the end user to test and re-test their drink throughout the night, because the same plastic cup, glass, or stirrer that the user is drinking with is also the indicator itself," Abramson told Bust Magazine. "This provides continuous monitoring of the beverage because the indicators on our products are constantly in contact with the beverage."
So far, Abramson and McDonald have raised about $27,000, with a goal to hit $50,000 by the end of the year. DrinkSavvy products are currently only available on pre-order, but their goal is to begin distributing them by June 2013.