Odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so-called “date rape” drugs are nasty, sneaky things. When surreptitiously added to someone’s drink, they cause that person to become disoriented, sleepy, slow-to-react, and otherwise easier to sexually assault. Making things worse, the victim usually can’t remember what happened while they were drugged, making prosecution or even identification of the assailant difficult. Now, however, a new invention known as DrinkSavvy may allow people to know if such drugs have been put in their drink.

The DrinkSavvy company was founded by Boston-based entrepreneur Mike Abramson. Within the past three years, both Mike himself and three of his friends have unwittingly consumed date rape drugs that were slipped to them. This prompted Abramson to get in touch with Dr. John MacDonald, a professor of chemistry at Massachusetts’ Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Working with MacDonald, he proceeded to create a material that changes color when exposed to the three most common date rape drugs – GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol. Future versions of the material could be tweaked to detect other drugs, as they come into common use.

The idea is that bars could offer drinks in glasses or disposable plastic cups containing the new material, or with stir sticks or straws made from it (the sticks/straws are perhaps a particularly good idea, as people could always buy their own and use them at any bar or event). As long as the treated item didn’t change color, it would mean that none of the targeted drugs were present in the drink.

Abramson is quick to emphasize, however, that the technology isn’t intended as an alternative to common sense ideas like not leaving one’s drink unattended – it’s more meant to be an added layer of defense.

Mike is currently raising funds on Indiegogo to manufacture the cups, sticks and straws, then start distributing them to bars. A pledge of US$15 will get you a pack of 100 straws or 50 plastic cups, when and if they reach production. More information is available in the pitch video below.

DrinkSavvy isn’t the only date rape drug-detection technology out there, incidentally. Scientists from Tel Aviv University are in the process of commercializing a straw-like electronic optical sensor that reportedly does the job, using inexpensive disposable cartridges.

Source: Indiegogo