Technology has flattened the world, while crossing borders and in many ways made life easier for many of us. However, for many women, it has also brought to light the dark reality of sexual assault and abuse, women all over the globe experience day in and day out.
Who better than a woman, an engineer no less, seems more qualified to forge a wearable with one thing in mind, to save lives and prevent sexual assault? Meet Manisha Mohan, a grad student and researcher at MIT’s Living Mobile lab.
The design for the Living Mobile Project is based around three technological interventions which can seamlessly integrate with existing clothing to respond to initial signs of assault like forced disrobing. The proposed solutions aim to combat Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), College Campus assault and abuse of elderly and disabled.
The proposed solution operates in two modes, an active mode for instances when the victim is unconscious or cannot fight against the assaulter, for example in the case of infants, bed-ridden patients, elderly, disabled, intoxicated people and the passive mode where the victim can self-actuate the safety mechanism. Both modes release distress signals to prevent an assault in real-time, also alert the victim’s friends and family, and call emergency services for help.
The Intrepid clothing design is based on input from sexual assault survivors, 338 on-line participants, 67 volunteers and 20 users who helped the research group better understand the real world feasibility of the system. Users evaluated the clothing appeal, functionality, cultural sensitivity and provided feedback on their general sense of security wearing the smart clothing. A first hand demonstration, of the practicality of the unobtrusive design with user studies that support the technological development and use of olfactory stimuli by showing the effect of smells on sexual arousal and partner selection. We believe the techno-social approach can help improve user safety and prevent sexual assault.