News, Insights and Stories from the Australian and New Zealand tech ecosystem.

Startup DrinkSavvy makes date rape drug detecting drinkware

When your drink or marshmallow is spiked in The Hangover, it’s funny. In reality, not so. Startup DrinkSavvy is currently making cups and straws that can detect whether someone’s spiked your drink with a date rape drug.

“Date rape” is extremely common especially for younger women, not only in Australia, but around the world. Occurrences have increased with the widespread availability of invisible, odourless, “date rape drugs” – Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine.

To help end the epidemic, startup DrinkSavvy is producing drinkware that alerts party-goers if any of these chemicals have been placed in their beverage.

How? In the presence of these chemicals, the plastic cups show red stripes and straws change colour from clear to red (see below).

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date rape detector straws

DrinkSavvy was founded by engineering graduate Michael Abramson, and the company raised more than its pledge of USD$50,000 through their Indiegogo campaign, with over 2500 individual contributors.

Unfortunately, the idea emerged when Abramson himself was the victim of a “roofied” beverage one night when he was at a Boston nightclub. Rohypnol was slipped into his drink and the next thing he knew he was lying on his apartment stairs.

Soon after, he started collaborating with chemistry and biochemistry researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute to develop a way to make date rape drugs detectable.

The products will be available for free in rape crisis centres throughout the US and will hopefully roll out overseas.

Abramson also plans to get bars, clubs and universities to use the drinkware as an initiative against drug-facilitated sexual assaults.

People like Abramson exemplify the true value of entrepreneurship. If you’re not solving a problem, you’re not really an entrepreneur.

Keep an eye out for DrinkSavvy’s expanded product range which will be released next year.





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