Roofies--which can lurk odorless, colorless, and tasteless in liquids--may have met their match with DrinkSavvy, a new line of glassware, plastic cups, straws, and stirrers that detect their presence.

When a drink is spiked, stop sign-red stripes show up on the cup’s sides; the clear straw or stirrer changes color, too.

DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson made it his mission to help prevent roofie-related blackouts after he himself was the victim of one in 2010.

Abramson raised $52,089 in funds on IndieGoGo. Next month, the first batch of straws and 16-oz. plastic cups ships out. By 2014, the company expects products to be commercially available.

Co.Design

This Roofie-Detecting Glass Could Prevent Date Rape

A new line of plastic cups, straws, and stirrers raises an immediate red flag if a drink is spiked.

Memory-melting roofies, aka date rape drugs—which lurk odorless, colorless, and tasteless in drinks—may have met their match. DrinkSavvy, a new line of glassware, plastic cups, straws, and stirrers, detects their presence. When a drink is spiked, stop sign-red stripes show up on the cup’s sides; the clear straw or stirrer changes color, too.

That such a product is necessary is a sign of grim times, times in which the sinister drugs are too easily acquired and too unknowingly administered. The versions that appear in bars are often just powdered megadoses of the prescription benzodiazepine Rohypnol—an insomniac’s little helper, similar to Valium and Xanax.

There are more than a million victims of predator drugs every year—and in 2010, DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson was one of them.

“I ordered my first drink of the night at a birthday party at a Boston club," Abramson tells Co.Design. "But halfway through that first drink, it started to feel more like my 15th. One of the few things I remember after that is waking up with a massive headache and substantial nausea, feeling confused, and wondering, ‘What happened to me that I don’t remember?’” With no injuries, he assumed he’d been the target of a robbery before whoever dosed him got cold feet, or that the drink had been meant for someone else.

Abramson made it his mission to avoid another hellish blackout. “I bought drug-testing strips to pour my drink on periodically, but that was really annoying, and incredibly socially awkward.” So he took his idea of merging the software with the hardware to Dr. John MacDonald, a chemistry professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who integrated a magic color-changing, roofie-busting material into plastic and glassware.

Next month, thanks to the $52,089 Abramson raised on IndieGoGo, the first batch of straws and 16-oz. plastic cups ships out. By 2014, the company expects products to be widely commercially available.

“Even preventing one person from being the victim of a drug-facilitated sexual assault would make DrinkSavvy wildly successful,” says Abramson. He hopes the products will someday become the new norm in bars, clubs, and on college campuses. Bottles and cans with similar detection functions are in the works.

The promotional video from DrinkSavvy’s IndieGogo site includes some nauseating footage about drug-related sexual assaults.

Assuming rapists don’t all abandon their evil craft with the advent of DrinkSavvy, the product is sure to create some strange scenarios in da club. What do you do when your cup turns red? Hunt down the predator and warn your fellow partiers? How? Perhaps the next edition should shoot out lasers that detect and taze all drink-spiking pieces of human waste.

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6 Comments

  • scotch1978

    Hi,
    Without independent validation this is just a story and may provide misleading information and hope to those wishing to benefit and support this initiative. What are your plans to have this independently tested?

  • alliect84

    My only concern is cost.  Most bars/clubs buy the cheapest cups they can find, and if these don't compete, no one will buy them.  Also, most bar/club owners I've met have a tendency to think this sort of thing just doesn't happen in their establishment.  If patrons don’t ask for this, adoption will be slow and difficult.

  • Simon Mackay

    My question that I would have about DrinkSavvy glassware is whether washing the DrinkSavvy glassware whether by hand or through a domestic or commercial dishwasher will "reset" the markers that identify that a drink has been spiked. Similarly, there is the issue of the drinkware not being of use with darker-coloured drinks like cola, dark ales or red wine and whether it will be effective with hot drinks such as tea, coffee or hot chocolate; or that trendy espresso martini.

    I also suspect that such glassware may also be sold for use in the home especially as home is another place to host parties or where one may entertain a person as part of a date.

  • Jacqueline Joseph

    It should be a test strip, instead. Something people can carry in their purse and drop in their drink to test. How are we to assume every business serving alcohol will purchase this line of products?

  • Simon Kwan

    It's a sad and disturbing that date rape and drugging are such a societal epidemic that we need to employ such technology to keep ourselves safe from the apparently growing numbers of amoral, sociopathic predators. While I'm glad that this technology and product now exist and will hopefully save someone's life (yes, non-consensual sexual abuse dramatically f&@ks up victims lives), the bigger issue is what malcontented and maladjusted aspects of our culture lead so many of our citizens to behave in such criminal manners? Wtf are the root causes of such disturbing rises in sociopathic and criminal acts by people who otherwise seem 'normal' and law abiding?