Undercover Colors Nail Polish: Wearable Tech Meets Crime Prevention

It is estimated that one in five women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there. ~ President Barack Obama

According to statistics compiled by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18% of American women can expect to be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. A recent Washington Post analysis  exposed a startling 50% increase in this type of crime on college campuses nation-wide over the course of the last five years, with a total of more than 3,900 allegations of forcible sex offenses. Sadly, the number of assaults may be even higher due to the societal stigma associated with the crime,and many rapes still go unreported. A small group of researchers at North Carolina State University are hoping to lower these terrible figures through the power of science and technology.

What is Undercover Colors and who created it?


Undercover Colors Nail Polish: Source:PFW.comUndercover Colors Nail Polish: Source:PFW.com


Undercover Colors is a fingernail polish start-up company created by Tyler Confrey-Maloney, Stephen Gray, Ankesh Madan and Tasso Von Windheim, four student/researchers at North Carolina State University. They claim their new product can detect certain date rape drugs (Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB) by changing color when dipped into a drink that has been spiked.

The nail polish, which is still a prototype, was entered into the school's LULU Games sponsored by Lulu.com and the North Carolina State University (NSCU) Entrepreneurship Initiative, a project which challenges students to develop applicable solutions to prevailing world problems.

How can fingernail polish prevent date rape?


Undercover Colors Application: Source: Chris Burns-slashgear.comUndercover Colors Application: Source: Chris Burns-slashgear.com


Like most great ideas, the proccess is simple. Just apply the special polish, which looks no different than others on the market today, to your fingernails. If served a drink by someone you are not sure you can trust, dip one finger into the liquid. The polish will turn color if the drink has been spiked.

The company claims that this alert grants time to escape a dangerous situation, providing an edge no potential rapist coud ever expect or prepare for. Further, the company states that its purpose is to "make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman's drink because there's now a chance that they can get caught."

Issues with Undercover Colors nail polish


Specialty Nail Polish: Source: Bizjournal.comSpecialty Nail Polish: Source: Bizjournal.com


Presently, one concern about the nail polish is that while it does effectively indicate the presence of the three major date rape drugs (Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB), there is no guarantee that there aren't and won't be other drugs designed to counteract the affect of the liquid on the polish. Rapists are devious and this product could provide a false sense of security. Still, it is a good idea, well-intentioned and on the right track.

The company is still in the development and fund-raising phase, and it is not clear when this polish will be made available to the public. So far, campaigns have been successful and the company recently received $100,000 from a single investor.



Sexual Assault: Source: wvec.comSexual Assault: Source: wvec.com


The sexual violation of women on college campuses is an important issue that must be addressed and taken seriously. The fact that four young men created Undercover Colors is a wonderful move in the sympathetic right direction. The nail polish is a small weapon in a sparse arsenal, offering a slight edge that can help avoid a serious crime. The choice to wear or not to wear this polish however, in no way implies any responsibility on the part of the woman for a sexual attack.

 Always and forever, blame for rape lies with the perpetrator who attacks women for the simple reason that he can.

 Young women, be safe, by whatever means necessary.