A GROUP OF students from Cork are hoping their design for an app that tells whether a drink has been spiked will bring them success at the BT Young Scientist exhibition this week.
Their design – which is at an advanced stage – will combine a device called a spectrometer with a smartphone app, which can then be used to test any drink at a pub, nightclub or party.
In simple terms, the spectrometer shines a light through the liquid – and can detect whether anything unexpected shows up. The results will then be detailed on the smartphone app.
The project is the brainchild of Coláiste an Chraoibhin students Aisling Nolan, Wiktoria Biedron and DJ Cahill.
Aisling and Wiktoria talk us through the science in the clip below:
Starting work on their Young Scientist project in January of last year, the group initially worked on detecting lead in drinking water – which, as Wiktoria explains, was “very topical at the time”.
Their initial experiments were successful, “and since we’re all influenced by drugs both voluntarily and involuntarily we decided that this would be very interesting to do, and help others”.
It’s such a big thing, drugs, and we figured if we could detect lead in water why can’t you detect drugs in drink?
The device needs darkness to be effective – and unfortunately couldn’t be demonstrated for TheJournal.ie under the bright lights of the RDS.
The plan, as the project moves forward, is to combine the spectrometer with the app technology – as Aisling explains:
“At the moment, we’re putting the phone into the spectrometer – but the ideal thing would be if we could create a spectrometer small enough so that it could be linked to the camera-phone.
It could be built into the camera-phone, and then you could just have your phone and it’s perfect, and you don’t need any device.
From an initial 2,048 projects, some 550 projects are on display at the RDS in Dublin this week as part of the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. Around 60,000 visitors will have passed through the doors of the Ballsbridge complex by tomorrow evening.
The overall winner of the competition will be announced tonight.