Tue10172017

Last updateWed, 18 Oct 2017 8am

Lifestyles

New Nail Polish Created By College Kids Can Detect Date Rape Drug

hands-drinkUndercover Colors. These two words have been put together by four undergraduate students for their new product: a nail polish for women that can detect certain rape-drugs.

Studying in the Materials Science and Engineering department at North Carolina State University, the four first displayed their product in an entrepreneur competition held at their school. Students were told to create a project which could solve real-world issues. For their creation, Stephen Gray, Ankesh Madan, Tyler Confrey-Maloney, and Tasso Von Windheim took home first place and around $12,000.

They continued to build upon the Undercover Colors idea and featured the product in K50 Startup Showcase. From their product illustration at the showcase, the team received $100,000 from an investor.

With the money, the four have expanded their science project into an actual business. The one drawback: the nail polish is not for sale yet. "One of our main priorities is to ensure that we develop a product that tests for a comprehensive set of drugs before we release it. Our proof-of-concept research has been very promising and we want to continue to build on this early success before we officially release a product in stores," the students wrote on their product's Facebook page.

The product's fame has been catching on quickly as its Facebook page has already accumulated over 112,000 likes. Frequently visted websites by college students have also been publishing pieces about the product, such as Elite Daily and BuzzFeed. Before the product has even been officially introduced to the market, it is quickly reaching the right target audience.

As of now, the nail polish can detect a few date rape drugs such as Xanax, GHB, and Rohypnol, the latter of which is the most common rape drug according to womenshealth.gov.

When in use, women can discreetly stir their drinks with their nail polished finger and if the nail polish changes colors, then it signals that a rape drug is present in the drink.

Although it seems rather simple, Jackie van Wagner, a senior communication major, is unsure of its effectiveness.

"I feel like it sounds like a good idea but realistically, I do not think I would remember to keep checking my drink if I was out," she said.

Senior art major Nicole Comito also believes that the product may be a hard sell. "I would try it, but I don't think many people will use it until they learn that it has positively helped others," she said.

On the other hand, Becca Zidik, senior communication major, thinks the nail polish could be limiting itself by being promoted as a woman's product.

"Since the undergraduate students invented a clear coated nail polish as well, men can also gain the benefits of the product." she said.

While in theory the nail polish sounds like a good idea, some journalists are raising red flags on the product. In a report by Gail Sullivan of The Washington Post, two main issues with the nail polish were brought to surface. The first being alcohol is one of the primary sources for rape cases, not necessarily the drugs. The second concern is women may be blamed more than before if a rape crime was to occur since they have a better chance to prevent the rape from happening simply by wearing nail polish.

"It is always an unfortunate by product of rape culture when date rape victims themselves are held responsible for their own victimization, but victim-blaming is a problem that women contend with now and will likely need to contend with in the future," Communication Lecturer Shannon Hokanson said.

"Regardless, the date rape nail polish also represents a way for women to empower themselves against predators, and is a product that anyone who intends to drink in college environments should be interested in."

Though these are considerations the four students and their investors will have to take in as food for thought, the nail polish product will most likely help in many cases.

"I think [Undercover Colors] can be beneficial for many people all over the world, especially college students," Comito said.

Pat Layton, a senior communication major, also supports the project's intentions, especially when it comes to college students.

"I think on paper it's a great idea," he said. "It seems like a great solution to a significant issue."

According to a program called One in Four, one in every four college woman have been in a rape situation. The U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reported that there is an average of 237,868 rape and sexual assault cases a year.

In attempts to get their product on the shelves as soon as possible, the students are taking donations through PayPal. In the future, they do intend to use Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform website, to gain sufficient funds.

"Our audience will be the first to know if and when this campaign launches," the creators wrote on their Facebook page.

The objective for the undergraduate students is to create a fool proof nail polish line in many different colors. Once they finally do gain enough funds to make their dream a reality, people will be able to access the product.

IMAGE TAKEN from Cosmopolitan.com

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