TECH

This Little Stick Tells You If Your Drink Was Drugged

07/24/2014 02:36 pm 14:36:17 | Updated Jul 24, 2014
pd.id

Plenty of women can relate to the fear that comes along with putting a drink down at a crowded party or bar: Did someone spike this cocktail? Was I just roofied?

Now, there's a gadget -- a little stick -- designed to ease that date-rape drug anxiety. It's called pd.id, or the "personal drink ID."

Here's how it works: Stick the pocket-sized gizmo into your drink, and it will scan for color, conductivity and temperature. It then takes that information and compares it to a database of drinks it knows by connecting to an app on your phone.

If it finds that the drink is red wine and nothing more, a green light flashes. But if it spots a common date-rape drug like Ambien or Rohypnol, the red light lets you know to pour it out and consult the smartphone app, which will tell you what was in it.

pdid

The pd.id in action.

While the high-tech industry has been mired with its own gender-balance problems, Wilson said he has been encouraged by the support he has received from his techie colleagues.

"A lot of men don't understand the issue of sexual assault," founder David Wilson told the Huffington Post. "But men are now becoming more aware."

Wilson, a former IT consultant living in Toronto, began working on pd.id three years ago. Since then he has launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise $100,000 to fund his project. Even if his project fails to meet its fundraising goal, he said, it will at least have raised awareness of the issue. So far, it's raised about $12,000.

Statistics about the prevalence of date-rape drugs are difficult to come by, but in 2005 the U.S. Department of Justice found 4 percent of sexual assault victims had been drugged. (And drugged or not, nearly one in five women have been raped or experienced an attempted rape, according to a 2011 survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Trying not to oversell his device, Wilson called pd.id a "warning system" like the song-identifying Shazam app. Similar to how Shazam might have trouble finding a match in a crowded bar, "noise" in a drink -- like dishwasher soap residue -- could fudge the results.

But Wilson said this technology is already used by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. And even when the stick can't pin down exactly what's in the drink, the red light will still flash to let you know to think twice before taking a sip.

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