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No-Contact Jacket

In 2003, Adam Whiton, an industrial designer at MIT, and Yolita Nugent, head designer at Advanced Research Apparel, developed the No-Contact Jacket, a stylish, sporty woman’s jacket that repels an assailant trying to grab the wearer with a powerful but non-lethal 80,000 volt shock while it’s active. The jacket insulation protects the wearer from the delivered electrical charge, which causes the assailant to experience a painful, uncomfortable shock, disorientation, and loss of balance, enabling the woman to escape.

The inner layer of the jacket is made with a conductive fiber powered by a 9-volt battery, which builds a high-voltage but low-amp charge through a series of step-up circuits, much like the technology used in commercial stun guns. The wearer must arm the jacket to activate it by turning a small lock on an outer sleeve using a key, and then charge it by pressing a button, held in the palm, attached by a cord to the inside of one of the sleeves.

Even when not activated, audible crackle sounds of visible "electric arcs" on parts of the fabric warn that the jacket is armed. Though it serves to deter many a prospective assailant, surprise attacks would leave the victim unable to respond in time. Thus, in situations in which a woman might feel particularly vulnerable, for instance when alone in a parking garage, she might activate it.

The prototype jacket is made only in smaller sizes with narrow armholes suitable for many women and to prevent a man from donning it to use against a woman. Likewise, incorporation of the deterrent in donned apparel such as a jacket impedes the taking of it to use against her.

The jacket is still not available for purchase, but the original price revealed on the website of "No-Contact", the company commercializing their invention, was around $1000, expected to drop once they’d team up with apparel manufacturers for mass production.