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Does this tech make sense? - Input Junkie
December 27th, 2012
11:55 am

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Does this tech make sense?
There's an Indiegogo campaign for cups, stirrers, and straws which change color if a drink contains one of the three most common date rape drugs. This would be a great thing, but they're only trying to raise $50,000.

They've already got a compound which changes color, but my feeling is that putting it into a dye and getting the dye to stick to plastic and making sure the stuff is safe and then going into even small scale reproduction is not a $50,000 project. On the other hand, I don't know the state of the art.

If you think the project is sound, they've got $13,500 to go and only 64 hours left.

Link thanks to filkertom.

Fast cheap chemical analysis is a tech I've been looking forward to for some time. My handy example is drinking water. Why does Philly water make my tongue sting about half the time?

Admittedly, testing tap water for all the dubious things which might be in it-- or even the top twenty dubious things-- is a harder project.

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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:December 28th, 2012 07:39 am (UTC)
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If those straws etc came on the market, so would counterfeit items that gave false negatives.

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From:nancylebov
Date:December 28th, 2012 07:50 am (UTC)
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Probably, though there would also be test kits for checking the straws etc, not to mention some reputational method of improving the odds of getting the real product.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:December 28th, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC)
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If the girl has to carry a test kit to test the straws supplied in a bar, or a guy's home, etc, she might as well test the drink itself.

It's a good idea to have something to test with, but it should be something the girl would buy and carry for herself, and that could be used unobtrusively. Maybe just test paper, cut into confetti-sized pieces, that she could carry in her purse and drop into the drink. It would seem to be just a scrap that accidentally fell in.
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 28th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
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I was thinking about wanting to check the straws etc. bought on ebay or off the back of a truck. If the counterfeit problem is serious you might even want to test what you bought at a drugstore.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:December 28th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
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To protect against counterfeit, the girl could buy the detector items herself from a trusted source. But how could she use her own items without embarassment on a date? The waiter brings a drink to the table and she takes the cup out of her purse and pours the drink into her own cup? Even taking a straw out of her own purse and using it instead of the straw that came with the drink, would be awkward (and straws carried in the purse get bent).

Same thing at a guy's home, he'd offer her a drink in a glass of his own.
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From:agrumer
Date:December 28th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
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I haven’t watched the video, but going by the description, there is no negative signal, only a positive.

In other words, the object changes to indicate the drink is drugged, but there’s no change to indicate that the drink is safe — the safety indication is that the object doesn’t change. Which means any normal cup, straw, or stirrer that resembles the detector, but lacks the chemical treatment that makes it a drug detector, acts to give a false negative.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:December 28th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
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Because the detectors do not change for a positive result, any normal non-changing straw etc will seem to indicate a negative, which in some cases may be false. All a counterfeiter would have to do, is make a normal item with the appearance of a detector.

If the safety indication were a change, that would make counterfeiting much harder.

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From:agrumer
Date:December 29th, 2012 01:58 am (UTC)
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Isn’t that what I just said?
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 29th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC)
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On the other hand, making a reliable safety indicator would be much harder. Note that the proposed product indicates any of the three most common date rape drugs, not all possible date rape drugs.

On the other hand, a stripe which turned green in the presence of water would at least indicate that the cup wasn't an ordinary plastic cup, but if counterfeits are a serious problem then we could assume there would be cups that only turned green and didn't indicate date rape drugs.
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From:kgbooklog
Date:December 29th, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC)
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Am I the only one worried about false positives?
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 29th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
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I guess so, or at least none of my commenters brought up the question, and I didn't think of it. Good point.
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