Students Invent Straw That Can Test For Date Rape Drugs

Students from Miami made a huge leap in functional innovation with the design of a simple straw that can test whether or not your drink has been spiked. The product changes color when it comes into contact with two of the most common “date rape” drugs, and has won the three students the Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge.

The invention, called Smart Straws, is designed to be small enough to carry in a purse, while quick and accurate enough that once placed in a spiked drink, the user will know whether or not it is safe to drink. “Rapes assisted by drugs or alcohol are all too common,” explained one of the students, Susana Cappello, to A Plus. “We just want to give any gender a simple tool to protect themselves.”

The use of date rape drugs at colleges and universities has been on the rise in recent years. Half of the people surveyed for the development of this product say they know someone who has been drugged at a party, while it is now thought that one in five women will be sexually assaulted over the four years they spend in further education.

The students came up with the idea after making the observation that the use of traditional drug tests aren’t very practical and thus rarely used. The straws change color when they come into contact with two of the most common drugs used on unsuspecting people in bars and pubs: gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) – also known as liquid ecstasy – and Ketamine. Plans are in motion to add tests for other drugs, such as flunitrazepam (more commonly known as Rohypnol), at a later date.

In light of the interest that companies and organizations are likely to have in the product, the students are looking at ways to patent their invention, as well as other products that could be developed to expand the range.

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