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A device to detect and prevent sexual assault

A team of researchers at MIT has developed a new device to prevent sexual assault from happening.

The technology was designed with the on-campus, college-aged, intoxicated, unconsenting individual in mind.

The three main tasks of the Intrepid smart sticker are to detect, communicate and prevent unwanted encounters.

Here's how it works.

<who> Photo Credit: MIT Media Lab

The Intrepid smart sticker has both a passive and an active feature. The passive feature assumes the victim is conscious and able to activate the safety button on their own.

The active feature assumes the individual is intoxicated or unconscious unable to give a response.

The smart sticker attaches to the inside of any type of clothing.

<who> Photo Credit: MIT Media Lab

If your clothing is being removed, it sends a signal and asks you to respond to the question, "Do you consent?" At that time you either click 'yes' or 'no.'

If the wearer doesn't reply in less than 30 seconds, then it starts buzzing loudly. If the individual doesn't respond to the loud buzzing within 20 seconds then the wearer's safety circle of contacts is notified.

The safety circle of up to five contacts is given the exact location of the person in trouble and one of the contacts receives a phone call.

At that time, the call and any other noises are recorded.

According to the MIT Media Lab, a person in the U.S. is sexually abused every 98 seconds. As well, every 16 hours, a woman in the U.S. is murdered by her romantic partner or ex.

In Canada last year, the rate of police-reported crimes increased by 1%. It's still 29% lower than it was in 2006, but the last two years have started to see a climb.

The chart below shows the police-reported crime severity index from 1998 to 2016.

<who> Photo Credit: Stats Can </who> Police-reported crime severity indexes, 1998-2016.

While the rate of self-reported sexual assault hasn't changed significantly in Canada from 2004 to 2014, the rate of police-reported sexual assault in 2016 was 15% lower than a decade ago.

Stats Canada attributes this to a range of factors.

"Police-reported data can underestimate the nature and extent of sexual assault. These types of offences can go unreported to police. Self-reported data from the GSS on victimization showed that only 5% of sexual assulats experienced by CAnadians aged 15 years and older in 2014 were brought to the attention of police. Like police-reported data, the General Social Survey (GSS) found the majority (71%) of incidents involved unwanted sexual touching. The most common reasons for not reporting sexual assaults to the police were that the victim perceived the crime as minor and not worth taking the time to report (71%); the incident was a private or personal matter and handled informally (67%); and the victim perceived that no one was harmed during the incident (63%)." (Source: Stats Can.)

"Our clothing design is based on input from sexual assault survivors, 338 on-line participants, 67 volunteers and 20 users who helped us understand the real world feasibility of our system," stated a spokesperson for MIT's Intrepid device. "We believe our technosocial approach can help improve user safety and prevent sexual assault."

The Smart Sticker is part of the Intrepid products, which works on developing multiple methods to detect initial signs of assault and further develop communication and prevention. Currently, Intrepid is working on an olfactory stimuli to prevent assault.

What are your thoughts on the device?

How effective do you think this device would be?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or send us an email at

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