High School Students Design Drug-Detecting Straw to Fight Sexual Assault

iStock / iStock

A group of teenage girls have come up with an innovative way to combat a rising problem. In May, Susana Cappello, Carolina Baigorri, and Victoria Roca won the Miami Herald's Business Plan Challenge for their date rape drug-detecting Smart Straw. Now the high school students are hoping to make the tool available to a wider audience, A Plus reports.

Traditional date rape drugs cause symptoms like dizziness, muscle relaxation, and loss of consciousness in targets of sexual assault. These drugs usually lack a distinct taste, scent, or color, which can make them impossible to detect once they’ve been sprinkled into a beverage.

Date rape drug testing strips are affordable, but they can be awkward and inconvenient to use in social settings. With the Smart Straw—which works in both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages—the friends from Miami's Gulliver Preparatory High School aimed to create a test that wouldn’t distract users from having a good time. "Rapes assisted by drugs or alcohol are all too common," Cappello told A Plus. "We just want to give any gender a simple tool to protect themselves."

In ideal scenarios, the Smart Straw is just a straw. But when the common date rape drugs Rohypnol, GHB, or Ketamine are present, the straw turns blue to signal that the drink has been spiked.

The invention beat out over 300 submissions for first place in the Miami Herald’s contest. A commercial version isn’t available yet, but the team plans to change that soon. The next step is a crowdfunding campaign to help bring the project closer to the manufacturing stage.

[h/t A Plus]