How much have you had to drink? A temporary tattoo with an electronic sensor can now tell you exactly. (Photo: Stocksy/Cherish Bryck)
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a sensor that can measure a person’s blood alcohol level within 15 minutes.
This wearable, flexible device includes two parts: A temporary tattoo and a portable electronic circuit board that connects to the tattoo by a magnet. Since previous research has shown that blood alcohol concentration can be detected in real time through the sweat that appears on your skin, the information contained inside the sweat is then electrochemically transmitted wirelessly to a laptop, smartphone, or other mobile device.
And the wearer doesn’t need to jog around the block and work up a sweat in order to receive an accurate reading. The tattoo releases pilocarpine — a drug that stimulates saliva production and is used to treat dry mouth — to induce sweating.
In a small study of nine healthy participants, researchers found that the device provided accurate readouts before and after the volunteers consumed either a bottle of a beer or a glass of red wine.
To date, there is no wearable or portable alcohol sensor that can use a Bluetooth connection on the market. The engineers hope their invention will deter adults from driving while intoxicated. In fact, the device could be integrated with a car’s alcohol ignition interlocks, stated Joseph Wang, one of the lead investigators, in a press release.
“The real-time data can also be transmitted to others’ mobile devices,” Jayoung Kim, a materials science and engineering PhD student in Wang’s group and one of the paper’s co-authors, tells Yahoo Beauty.
For example, friends can check up on one another before handing over the car keys. “An AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) sponsor can track if their sponsee is drinking or not,” says Kim. “Also, parents can monitor if their child is drinking or not.”
Kim adds that he and his colleagues still “have lots of work to do” before this sensor can be made available to the public. “Future efforts will focus on personalizing the device and developing the smartphone application to be more user-friendly,” he states.
Until then, have a designated driver or ride with Uber.