New Delhi: Anti-rape underwear, a fashionable vest that can jolt molesters out of their wits or a watch-like device fitted to give abusers an electric shock - students from various colleges and schools in the country are channeling their outrage and anger over sexual attacks on women in the country through several futuristic innovations.
Externally, it looks like a nightgown, ordinarily worn by women or teenage girls, but the garment is literally a power packed GPS and sensor-enabled device capable of temporarily incapacitating assaulters off their feet by triggering an 3800 kV electric shock at the press of button by the wearer.
"It was the pain of every women, which triggered the idea. All the more, it was hatred against molesters and eve- teasers which led to this design," says Manisha Mohan the inventor of the "anti-rape underwear" and what she calls 'SHE' or Society Harnessing Equipment.
Apart from administering a powerful shock to the assaulter the garment is also devised to send an alert to the police when the sensors are activated. Manisha, a student of Aeronautical Engineering, along with collaborators Niladri Basu and Rimpi Tripathy, students of Instrumentation and Control Engineering at Chennai's SRM University got together to build the device after the December 2012 horrific gangrape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.
Similarly, two fashion designing students of NIFT reworked a concept developed earlier in 2004 to create a 'anti-molestation' jacket, an innovation for which patent is awaited and subsequent commercial sale "hopefully" by 2014.
"We took the concept of a stun gun similar to the ones used by a policeman which can can discharge electricity up to 110 volt and catch a person off-guard.
The principle is to momentarily shock the person into immobility with a low-voltage pulse delivered between two electrodes," says professor Noopur Anand who mentored Nishant Priya and Shahzad Ahmad, students of the Bachelor's program in technology to create two prototypes of the "anti-molestation" jacket.
The jacket bears no special appearance but has "special features". "There were so many cases of molestation and rapes and that became the motivation for our graduation project.
Guided by Noopur, the basic idea was hers and was taken from a similar concept done by NIFT students in 2004.
The idea was to make a piece of clothing that will give the girl or the woman time to make a quick getaway if assaulted. It also should be wearable as well as washable," says Nishant Priya.
The duo took help from an engineer to fashion the self defence jackets - one in acrylic and another in trendy denim - with metal embroidery that can conduct 100 volts of shock to molesters when triggered by a button on the waistband of the wearer.
The charge in the jacket is delivered to the surface through the metallic contact points which are camouflaged in the embellishments of the jacket.
"We had to keep in mind that the jacket should be functional and affordable. The electric current should be mild, else it would turn into a weapon and that would entail getting a license and thereby raising the cost of the garment," says Nishant Priya who adds the garment can "render the assaulter immobile for at least 10 to 15 minutes."
Both the "anti-molestation jacket" and the SHE "anti-rape underwear" have been designed with insulation, that protects the wearer from the shocks through perspiration.
"Along with our gadget, we aim to provide the user with a manual with instructions on washing the garment," says Nishant.
Also, Manisha says that for the SHE device they are "trying to bring down the cost of production and also working on the fabric. We need some time to cope up with the loop holes," says the teenager.
The SRM students are also working to ensure the product is water-resistant and can be interfaced with mobile via Bluetooth. Meanwhile, Noopur Anand, the guiding force behind the NIFT student's innovation, has several ideas that she would like to see the light of the day.
"I want to explore a porcupine jacket one whose bristles will stand up and ward off a molester. I also have plans on my mind to explore the concept of smell and sound. Something which can emit a shrill noise or one that can give off a pungent odour that can deter assault. The puzzle, though is to protect the wearer," says Noopur.
The professor, who has expertise in working with such "Smart Garment" technology says they are on the look out for collaborators who can "work beyond the lab."
"I am aware that organisations like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have worked with some electrical fabric but it is not easily available commercially in India and the cost is also prohibitive. We want to do something which comes for less than Rs 1500," says Noopur.
There are also reports of a school student from Delhi who has designed a device that can be worn on the wrist like a watch and immobilise an assaulter giving the prospective victim enough time to flee and call for help.
When activated, the anti-molestation device records a significant rise in nerve speed and pulse rate of the victim, asks for an activation command and once it comes in contact with the attacker's skin, it delivers a shock of 0.1 ampere.
It is also capable of taking images of the attacker using an inbuilt camera.